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But, Cards!— Well, it is cards that has brought out the sporting blood in us. 



JACK POTS 



STORIKS OF THE GREAT 
AMERICAN GAME 

/ 
By EUGENE EDWARDS 




can be played 

but once a n/gAf 



WITH OVER FIFTY ORIGINAL PEN AND INK 
ILLUSTRATIONS BY 



IKE MORGAN 



I 900 

JAMIESON-HIGGINS CO, 

CHICAGO 



TWO COPIES HiiO.£iV t.J>. ^ 

Library of Congr9i% 
Office of tbe 

r.fi^9 1900 

Kagltter of Copyrl£fbt% 



60028 

Copyright, 1900 

BY 

JAMIESON-HIGGINS CO. 



ScCJND COPY, 



CONTENTS 

Chapter Page 

I. What is Poker? — Its Origin, and Why We Like It. 7 
II. The Early Days of Poker — Steamboat Games — 

A Mammoth Raise — Bowie's Good Deed 22 

III. Poker in Washington — A Story of Henry Clay — 

Cabinet Players — Mahone's Rule — When 
Reed Was Called 36 

IV. Poker in London and Paris — John Bull's Two 

Pair — A Game with the Prince of Wales 53 

V. Poker and Jurisprudence — Various Decisions by 
Legal Luminaries — How the Judge Over- 
ruled the Motion— The Sheriff Took the Pot.. 67 
VI. All about Jack Pots — A $1,200,000 Jack — Didn't 
Know Greenbacks — Won on Two Deuces — A 

Boston Man's Narrow Escape 85 

VII. The Scheme for a National Jack Pot— A Jack Pot 

Without Cards 104 

VIII. Women and Poker — Arguments to Show that They 
Can't Play and a Story to Prove that They 

Can 1 14 

IX. Old Time Poker in the South— A Jack Pot of 

Niggers — Colonel Rafael and His Honor 130 

X. Poker and Hypnotism — A Young Man Who can. 

Read Card.s — How Five Aces were Beaten — 

The Man Who Laid Down a Straight Flush. . 148 

XL A Life-long Game — The Great Morgan-Danielson 

Betting Match — Four Hours to Open a Jack 

Pot — Three Thousand Dollars for a Nap 160 

XII. About Bluffing — $200,000 on a Pair of Tens — A 
Bluff that Turned into a Flush — Major 

Edwards and the Tenderfoot 174 

5 



6 CONTENTS 

Chapter Page 

XIII. Tom Custer's Luck— A Girl Makes the Best Draw 

on Record — How a Town-site was Won on 
Two Deuces — Lucky Baldwin's Big Play i8g 

XIV. Six Cards in One Hand — Two Games wherein Six 

Cards Figured — What Became of the Extra 

One 204 

XV. Poker in the Centennial State — Big Betting on 
Small Hands — How Three Klondikers Played 
Cards 217 

XVI. Children and Poker — Too Much Frankness — 
Daddy and Dinah — How the Tom Fool had 

them "All Alike " 230 

XVII. The Police and the Gamblers— A Down East 
Selectman — A Bunko Game at Los Angeles — 

Story of the Short-Card Man 245 

XVIII. Superstitious Players — Queens and Tens — Louis 
Laid them Down — Euchre and Poker — An 
Old Story 259 

XIX. Reminiscences of William Hurt, Reformed — John 
Dougherty's Bet of Arizona Territory — His 

Adventures in Persia 271 

XX. How the Bear Spoiled the Jack Pot — Touching 
Tale of a Dog that Tipped off Poker Hands 
to His Master 2S4 

XXI. Practical Joking — How the Dentist was Fixed — 

The Fresh Baseball Reporter and the Players 294 
XXII. Crooked Gambling — An Expert Explains the Mys- 
teries of Second Card, Paper Men and Hold 
Outs 308 

XXIII. Classic Tales of Poker— The One-Eyed Man- 

Origin of the Looloo — Four Kings as Bank 
Collateral — Jay Gould as a Philanthropist 317 

XXIV. The Poetry of Poker— Ditties, Wise and Other- 

wise, about the Great National Game 335 



JACK POTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

WHAT IS POKER ITS ORIGIN, AND WHY 

WE LIKE IT. 

All civilized nations love sport, but Americans 
surpass all the world in that as in so many other re- 
spects. That is because Americans are so little 
conservative that they readily adopt all games 
as their own. As in everything else, England is 
shy of any but the customs that bear the mark of 
her own breeding, and a game — out or indoor — 
makes but slow progress in her affections. We have 
been trying to introduce base ball into the 
tight little island for twenty years, and although 
we are told that there are clubs here and there 
and hear dim rumors that some of the players are 
crack-a-jacks, we never hear of any of our mag- 
nates signing these phenoms, nor do we believe 
there is in all Great Britain a boy who gets up in 
the morning and makes a rush for the paper to see 
the score before his father looks at it. 

7 



8 JACK POTS. 

On the other hand, we have taken up cricket, 
which is so essentially English that it takes three 
days to play a match, and we have fairly gone daft 
over the Scotch game of golf. The Indian game 
of Lacrosse had quite a run a few years ago, and 
even now occasionally sees the light on our north- 
ern frontier, and we have even brought the game 
of polo from far away India. If any nation has a 
game that has in it the least element of attractive- 
ness, let it be brought along and it will certainly be 
given a respectful hearing. 

But, cards ! — Well, it is cards that has brought 
out the sporting blood in us. There are people 
who will not believe this, and point to base ball. 
They say ''Look at the thousands who attend a 
game!" All right; look at them. Then consider 
that the game only lasts for two hours and that 
a big league city gets only fifty-seven games in an 
entire season, if every scheduled game is played. 
And then consider that the thousands of spectators 
are not taking any actual part in the game ; they 
are not playing. Apart from the boys, hundreds of 
the spectators couldn't catch a fly ball with a net, 
and for every man looking on there are a hundred 
who are willing to simply read the account of the 
game in the next morning's paper. 

But cards w^e have with us always. There are 
a few^ men who have never played cards in their 
lives and for some inscrutable reason are proud of 



WHAT IS POKER? 9 

the fact, and a greater number who used to play 
when they were boys but have no time for it now, 
but the man who never in all his life fingered a pack 
of cards is about as hard to find as the man who 
never told a lie. Of course this would not have 
held true thirty or forty years ago, when cards 
were held up to scorn as the invention of the devil, 
and all card players were placed but a shade above 
a forger or pickpocket. We do not hear so much 
of that wild talk nowadays. 

In cards we are almost as radical as in out of 
door sports. Faro, baccarat, rouge et noir, and 
one or two others are decidedly foreign, and there 
are more coming. Euchre is French, and seven- 
up is our own. That is the country boy's game, 
and many a hay mow has looked down on an ex- 
citing game, when the old man had gone to town. 
Euchre is the ladies' game because you can play it 
any which way, and cheat and talk, and no one 
will get very mad about it. Whist is never going to 
be popular, no matter how many clubs are formed 
or how many trophies are played for. There 
is too much brain work about whist, pretty much 
as in chess, and the ordinary man does not care 
to expend more energy than would saw a cord of 
wood for the sake of persuading himself that he 
has had an hour's amusement. One reason whist 
is played as much as it is, is owing to the idea in- 
dustriously cultivated that the game is "respect- 



lo JACK POTS. 

able." Perhaps this is due to the fact that the 
Queen of England plays whist, but she also drinks 
Scotch whiskey, so that would hardly do to take 
as an indorsement. In English novels the vicars 
and curates always play whist, so that may be the 
reason. At any rate the game is eminently "re- 
spectable," and a lady never alludes to her last 
visit to the whist club without a touch of con- 
scious pride. It adds to her social standing, or she 
thinks it does, which amounts to the same thing. 

When you shuffle up all the games, however, 
there is one that stands out before and beyond all 
the others, like a lighthouse on the sea coast or 
a water tank on a prairie, and that is POKER. 

This is not a history, but it seems no more than 
proper that a brief inquiry into the origin of the 
game should be given place. It is claimed that it is 
a descendant of the Spanish game of primero, 
although the proof is not very clear. According 
to the people who delve into such things, primero 
was elaborated in France in the seventeenth cen- 
tury into ambigu, in which the straight, the 
straight flush, three of a kind, and four of a kind 
were introduced. About this time a game called 
post and pair, derived from primero, was played 
in the West of England, and from this came brag, 
on which Hoyle wrote a treatise in 175 1. In the 
. game of brag, each player said ''I brag" as he 
raised another player. Another authority claims 



WHAT IS POKER? II 

that poker is merely a variation from the Irish 
game of spoil five. 

If these explanations are true it is rather remark- 
able that neither the Spanish, French, English or 
Irish have a liking for the modern and 
perfected game. Of course we know how 
cordially Europeans detest innovations, but 
that would mean that they would cling to 
primero or ambigu, but they do not. In 
spite of all temptations to belong to other nations 
we must insist that poker is a thoroughly American 
game, so much so that it has never taken root out- 
side of this country, nor even in Canada, except 
close to the border. General Schenck, our Minis- 
ter to England years ago,- is credited with an at- 
tempt to introduce it into that country for the de- 
lectation of the natives, but what he really did was 
to write a little manual of the game to relieve him- 
self of the necessity of answering a thousand of in- 
dividual questions. It was a passing craze, and we 
cannot flatter ourselves that the great American 
game has taken any hold of our British cousins. It 
is a pity 'tis true, because they don't know what 
they are missing. The Prince of Wales is the sporty 
boy of the English speaking people, and if he had 
been properly inoculated he would have set the 
fashion and then there w^ould have been a grand 
opening for an international show down. But 
he is too old a dog to learn new tricks, and now 



12 JACK POTS. 

we will have to wait for the Duke of York. The 
fact that he' is married and settled makes no dif- 
ference, as it is a notorious fact that married men 
make the best poker players. 

Therefore we may say with truth that America 
monopolizes the game of poker, and it certainly is 
the game that best fits our national character. To 
be a good poker plaj^jer requires nerve, and we have 
that to perfection. It requires money, and we have 
more than any other nation. It is a draft on the 
physical strength, and we are strong; the players 
must have brains, and there is where we lead the 
world. 

In addition to this it is such a simple game to 
learn. Anyone who knows how to play euchre 
or seven-up can be taught the game of poker in 
a half hour — and then spend the rest of his life 
in learning it. That is the main beauty of the 
game — you think you know it all after you have 
played ten hands and then after a hundred seances 
you begin to realize that there is something for you 
to learn. There is so much human nature in it, 
and human nature is so complex. 

From these statements one would think that 
Germans could play the game to perfection but 
the fact that they don't shows that they can't. The 
German is stolid, but he is too stolid. Chess just 
suits him ; it is a game where he can take an hour 
to a move, and everybody that looks on thinks he 



WHAT IS POKER? 13 

is" thinking. Of course the players have to think 
in poker, and theoretically the player is allowed 
to take his own time, but if he takes more* than the 
fraction of a minute somebody is apt to make a 
few remarks. 

Then there is the Frenchman. He is lively and 
vivacious, is apt to back his opinions with a wager 
and has none of the stolidity of the German, but 
he can't play poker. He is too excitable, he talks 
too much, he wants to gabble over the hands that 
have been played, and quick as he is, the game is 
too fast for him. 

You might think that the Englishman would 
make the model poker player, but he doesn't. It 
w^ould be all right if it wasn't for the bluffing part. 
Where the cards play themselves the Englishman 
is there every time, and he is a fine loser, but he 
can't get it through his hair that a man can win on 
the poorest hand through sheer force of nerve. 

In every other game the cards practically play 
themselves, but in poker the man plays the cards. 

For a crowd there is not a finer game on earth 
than faro on the square, but after all it is mere 
chance. Systems don't amoui.t to air^^thing; the 
system player is always broke, and the mjn that 
shuts his eyes and claps down his chips at random 
is just as liable to w^in as the man who has followed 
faro for years. You can't bluff; skill and experi- 
ence count for nothing; you are playing against 



/ 



14 



JACK POTS. 



a box that has no feelings to betray its contents, 
and after you have bucked up against it for ten 
years y«u know no more than the man who has just 
been introduced to the layout. 

Then, unlike all other games, poker never ends. 
When the hock card is in sight in faro, that is the 
end of the deal; euchre and seven-up, and every 
other game has a certain number of points and that 
settles it, but a poker game can go on forever. The 
hundredth deal around does not differ from the 
first and a new player can come in at any stage of 

the game, and have just the 
same chance as the man who 
has been sitting in all 
night. However, 
looked at in an- 
other light, per- 
haps that is one 
of the drawbacks. 
The man who is 
behind does not 
want to quit, 
and the man w^ho 
is ahead is 

• Hello! It's Eleven, boys."' ashauicd tO pull 

out, and between these tw'o feelings the game 
sometimes drags on until the players have to 
quit through sheer weariness. 

It is amusing to see some coteries making up 




WHAT IS POKER? 15 

their minds to limit the game. They sit down and 
unanimously agree that they will not play a minute 
after 11 p. m., because — well, for a whole lot of 
reasons. When 1 1 p. m. comes along, it is let slide 
by, and then at about half past eleven some one 
says: "Hello! it's eleven, boys." Then they agree 
to play one more round, and when that is done, 
it is suggested that there be a round of jack pots. 
After about six rounds of jack pots, then there is 
one or two rounds of something else, and the end 
of it is that the gathering scatters nearer to i a. m. 
than 1 1 p. m. The only remedy for this sort of 
thing is to have one of the players' wives send after 
him, or for one man to get all the chips. 

A good poker player would make a good actor. 
He is compelled to do a lot of acting during a long 
game. There are a few men who are gifted with 
faces that have about as much expression as a lump 
of dough and who never raise or lower their voices. 
It takes a heap of luck to beat that kind of a man. 
and most anybody would sooner play against a fel- 
low wdio ripped and tore around occasionally. It is 
a study to see the face of a man w^ho has just drawn 
a filler to two pairs. As he picks up the cards ana 
sees that it is just wdiat he wants, an expression of 
deep gloom or utter disgust settles on his coun- 
tenance, which then subsides into a state of resig- 
nation, as if he might have know^n that he w^as too 
unlucky to catch anything worth having. He ap- 



1 6 JACK POTS. 

pears to be depressed and he sees the other fellow 
fingering the chips, and it is with the greatest re- 
luctance he sees the bet and just lifts it one or two, 
making the muttered remark that his hand can't 
be beaten all the time. It is only when he makes 
the final raise that he comes from behind the mask, 
and the other fellow^ realizes that he has been lured 
on to destruction. Happy is the man that can 
play a full house and a pair of fours in exactly the 
same way — he has a fortune at his finger ends. 

It is this acting and pretence and chafif that 
makes the game so delightful, and when these 
frillings are absent one might as well play chess. 
It is only a quarter of the fun to play the cards, the 
rest is in playing the players. And what a school 
of control it is ! OfBcers in the army and navy are 
always capital players because they are taught to 
restrain their tempers and emotions in the line of 
duty until it becomes second nature to them. 
Look at Admiral Dewey's face and see a crack po- 
ker player. Note the square jaw, the immobile 
lips and dreamy indifferent eyes that seem to say 
*'I haven't a pair in my hand, and I'm only waiting 
for you to chuck in a chip and you can have the 
pot." And then, without a change of countenance 
you can see him elevate the pot until you wouldn't 
call him under fours. 

The man who loses his temper in a poker game 
will also lose his money. He will always be called 



WHAT IS POKER? i7 

when he bluffs, and when he gets a big hand he 
will never get the value of it, because no one will 
buck against him for fear of offending him by beat- 
ing the hand. If he doesn't enjoy losing his money 
he should affect indifference, or he is allowed to 
indulge in sarcastic remarks, provided they are 
witty as well. Nor does it do any harm to sympa- 
thize with a loser if you are ahead. When he comes 
to think it over afterwards, he w411 know that you 
didn't mean it, but it does him good at the time. 
There is another beauty about the game of poker 
that I almost forgot to mention. The amount of 
the stake has nothing to do with the pleasure of 
the game. I don't mean to say that a high roller 
who has been in the habit of making it ten dollars 
to draw cards every time could calmly contemplate 
five cent ante with a fifty cent limit with the same 
crowd, but take him out of the environment and he 
could. I have played penny ante with a ten cent 
limit, and found myself getting hot around the 
collar when I had a flush beaten for thirty cents. 
When the pot has been fattened by two or three 
raises before the draw and everybody is in, the 
.excitement is something tremendous when every- 
body stays, and the limit is bet the first crack. No, 
I'm not the least ashamed of it. The three other 
men could have lost ten thousand at a sitting and 
never felt it, but they wanted to play poker just for 
the fun of it, with no hard feelings afterwards. But 



1 8 JACK POTS. 

that is true about the way you feel, and I suppose 
is pretty much on the principle of hunting ; the boy 
who is out after rabbits feeling his heart beat as 
high as the man in the jungle lying in wait for a 
tiger. 

The "draw" in poker is an addition to the origi- 
nal game. At first it was played ''straight," that 
is, you got five cards and had no chance to better 
your hand. Once in a very long while you may 
hear of straight poker being played, but it is more 
for the novelty than because it is liked. The draw 
IS certainly the life of poker. There are such vast 
possibilities in it; so many utterly barren hands 
have blossomed into life under the influence of the 
draw that the player is constantly being buoyed 
up with hope. He is in the depths of despair in- 
deed when he throws up his cards and won't draw 
to a little pair when there has been a raise. To 
do that and then look and see 'Svhat you would 
have got," and find that you would have had the 
winning hand, is one of the moments of anguish 
few can bear without wincing. 

Innovations in poker have been many, and it 
would need a special chapter to describe them all,. 
but the only one that has met with universal favor 
is the jack pot. First introduced as a varient, it 
spurred up many a lagging game, and made an 
always exciting wind up to a night's performance. 
From this it naturally progressed to jack pots on 



WHAT IS POKER? 19 

any provocation, and finally on none at all — that is, 
the game became one of all jack pots. This comes 
under the head of the things that if you like them 
they are just the things you like. The main objec- 
tion to jack pots is that they are apt to prove too 
expensive for small wads. While it is true that you 
can play even on a couple of jack pots, it is also 
true that you can go broke with equal facility, as 
you must come in on every deal until some one 
opens the pot, and then maybe you can't come in at 
all. But, as revolutions never go backw^ard, the 
jack pot and its brothers are here to stay. 

Here it may be noted that it is only within the 
last twenty years that straights have been played in 
the Western States. And, of course, if straights 
weren't played neither was the straight flush, so 
that four aces was an absolutely sure thing. The 
introduction of the straight flush was a good thing 
because it took away the sure thing element, and it 
allows a man to bet on four aces with a clear con- 
science. It doesn't seem so much like highway 
robbery when you know there is about one chance 
ill ten thousand that your opponent has a straight 
flush against your aces, although you would be 
paralyzed if he had. 

As said before — several times before, perhaps — 
this is no history of poker, with the dates and the 
names of the men who introduced this or that, and 
when they did it ; neither is it an attempt to teach 



20 JACK POTS. 

anyone the game, which no one has ever yet done 
on paper or ever will; but it may incidently 
straighten out some controversial points over 
which men pull guns occasionally in certain locali- 
ties, and in other places get black in the face talk- 
ing over them. 

There is no harm, however, in putting down 
here, for the benefit of the reader who has only 
heard about poker and never played it, the rank of 
the playing hands, so that he may see how exceed- 
ingly simple the game is. They run thus : 

High card. 

One pair. 

Two pairs. 

Threes. 

Straight. 

Flush. 

Full hand. 

Fours. 

Straight flush. 

Suit makes no difference; that is, a flush of 
hearts is no better than clubs or any other suit; 
only the rank of the cards is considered. Nor have 
I put down here all innovations, such as kilters, 
drags, blazes, and many others which are played 
in various localities, because you have to learn 
them when you run up against the men who play 
them, and that is time enough. 

However this is enough to enable those who 



WHAT IS POKER? 21 

laugh the loudest at a minstrel poker joke to oc- 
casionally have some perception as to what they are 
laughing- at. It is a cold fact that the man who is 
away u]) on poker generally preserves a stony 
silence while the end man is describing his tribula- 
tions with four aces ; it is the other fellow who has 
his girl with him that is convulsed with merriment. 
It is a good play ; it makes her think he is a devil of 
a fellow when out of her sight. 

However, that's neither here nor there. Here 
goes. 



CHAPTER 11. 



THE EARLY DAYS OF POKER STEAMBOAT GAMES 

A MAMMOTH RAISE BOWIE's GOOD DEED, 

We do not think that there is any raih'oad in 
this country where card playing is forbidden in its 
coaches, but in the East and North gambUng is not 

tolerated. Of 
course, if two or 
more players are 
willing to put up 
so much a corner, 
and keep the cash 
out of sight, that 
is their business 
and the conduc- 
tor cannot very 
well interfere, but 
such a thing as 
pla y i n g with 
chips or money in 
sight would be called down in short order. In the 
West and South affairs are on an easier basis, and 
on many roads card betting is an every day affair, 
and creates no remark except from those inti- 
mately concerned. It is not so long ago since gangs 
of professional gamblers regularly worked all the 

22 




Playing with chips or money in sight would 
be called down. 



THE EARLY DAYS OF POKER. 23, 

trains west of the Mississippi River, with every im- 
aginable device to deceive the unwary. So openly 
was this done — and is still done on some roads— 
that it conveyed an impression that the train hands 
stood in with the sharpers, and got a whack at the 
spoil. cl»wm)1 ^ :\ > \ - ....' . r 

That, however, is not a necessary sequence. The 
conductors and brakemen do not perhaps feel any 
great sympathy for the victims, because they ought 
to know enough to keep out of games with 
strangers after all the warnings that have been pub- 
lished. But the train hands would interfere, were 
it not for the fact that they would get small thanks 
from the suckers they saved and on the other hand 
stand a chance of being assaulted by the sharpers. 
So long as there is no rule of the company against 
the practice, the train hands are justified in suppos- 
ing that the passengers know enough to protect 
themselves. 

But, gambling in its palmiest days on the rail- 
roads never began to touch the days when steam- 
boats were the chief means of inter-state travel. 
Before railroads criss-crossed the country in every 
direction, the two main arteries of travel were the 
Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Practically there was 
no west or northwest before 1850, and the Ohio 
and Mississippi filled the bill for south, southwest 
and the middle section. 

Those were the davs before the war when cotton 



24 JACK POTS. 

was king. In those days the Southerners had lots 
of money and spent it freely. As a rule they did 
not even wait until the cotton was raised and baled, 
they mortgaged their crops in advance, and if 
money ran too short there was always a slave or 
two that could be disposed of at fancy figures. 

The boats were nothing like the floating palaces 
such as now run on river and lake, but they were 
considered grand affairs for those days, and no 
doubt were comfortable enough, certainly more so 
for a three or four days journey than a railway 
coach is to-day. Here could be seen a group of 
men with broad straw hats, duck or linen suits of 
ample cut, sallow faces, fierce mustaches and keen 
eyes; men who were addicted to mint juleps and 
other fancy drinks ; who were suave in speech and 
extravagantly polite, and who always carried re- 
volvers and knives which they used on small pro- 
vocation. 

To such, card playing came as natural as drink- 
ing and they did more of each than eating or sleep- 
ing. It was nothing unusual for an open game to 
be run in the saloon all day and night from the 
time the boat left the wharf on the upper river until 
she landed at her destination. Private coteries were 
made up and played twenty-four hours at a stretch, 
the deck hands had their games at intervals and the 
pilot at the wheel took a hand when he was off 
duty. In short, everybody played or looked on, 



THE EARLY DAYS OF POKER. 25 

ready to play at the first chance, if they had the 
money. Among friends, notes or I O U's would 
go, but in an open game only money counted, and 
it was "put up or shut up." 

Here was the paradise of the professional poker 
player, and no boat was without its complement. 
They passed all their time traveling up and down 
the river, cheating when they had an opportunity, 
and playing a square game when they must. As 
a rule, they knew their men, and did not attempt 
any tricks on the planters who could lose a fortune 
without a murmur, but who would carve a man 
into bits at the least suspicion of foul play. They 
w^ere loaded with money and won many a hand on 
a bluff, where the game was without limit. If a 
man demanded a sight for his money he might get 
it, but the game would end right there. Generally 
the man kept on until he had up every cent in the 
world, and sometimes even the most reckless 
Southern high roller would not hesitate to risk five 
thousand on a pair of fives. 

Sometimes these gentry were beaten at their 
own game in this respect. On one occasion an 
army paymaster was traveling down the Ohio and 
dropped into a friendly game with three gentle- 
manly sharpers, and incidently dropped about five 
hundred dollars before he knew where he w^as at. 
About the same time he realized that he was up 
against it, and he settled down to get even. 



26 JACK POTS. 

Being an excellent player, he held his own for 
awhile, and even got a little ahead. His opponents 
soon saw that the ordinary methods of cheating 
would not answer with this man, so they resorted 
to crowding him out of every good pot by a sys- 
tem of raising each other. He tumbled to that 
plan also, but could make no objection, and bided 
his time. Presently it came. 

It w^as his deal, so he felt morally certain that it 
was fair, and he dealt himself three queens. The 
age on his left lifted the ante, his chum helped it 
along and the pot was pretty fat when cards were 
drawn. The paymaster did not help his hand, but, 
as he said afterwards he felt sure that it was the 
best out. Then the betting began. 

The man next the age bet ten dollars; the next 
man raised it fifty; the paymaster called, and the 
age raised another fifty. In turn he was lifted a 
hundred, the next man ^raised a hundred and the 
paymaster called again, only to be again raised by 
the age. This sort of thing went on until it be- 
came perfectly evident to the paymaster as well as 
the onlookers that the paymaster was not to be 
allowed to call. 

This merry little game of freeze out went on 
until there was $2,600 on the table, and then at a 
preconcerted signal no doubt, the age raised 
five hundred, the next man saw the five hundred 
and raised it a thousand, and the third man saw 
both raisers and lifted it five thousand. 



THE EARLY DAYS OF POKER. 



27 



The paymastei' looked on in apparent sur- 
prise. 

"Sixty-five hundred?" he said, inquiringly. 

'That's what," replied the age briefly. Then he 
added, as if overcome with disappointment, 'T 
guess that lets me out." 

The paymaster sized up the situation. The 
money up represented the combined capital of the 
gang, and if he drew out, 
the raise would not be 
called, and the five-thousand 
dollar man would 
b e allowed t o 
walk off with the 
pot without a 
show down, and 
the sharpers 
would whack up when they went 
ashore. He put in about two 
minutes in some mighty heavy 
thinking. 

uc 1 >) 1 'tit A^ Now I'D give you fifteen 

bee here, he said at length, minutes to raise the money. 
w-ri ' ,1 1 •, T 1 or the pot's mine. 

ihis rather hits me. I have 
the money to call, but I don't want to risk it all on 
one hand, as I tell you honestly I can't afford to 
lose it. Couldn't you cut down the pot and give 
me a show." 

''I could but I won't," replied the five-thousand 
dollar man, with cool insolence. "You knew this 




28 JACK POTS. 

game was without limit when you came in. 
Now I'll give you just fifteen minutes to raise the 
money, or the pot's mine." . 

The paymaster turned to a tall, grave man stand- 
ing by the table, a well known horse dealer, and an 
old player. 

*'Is that right, Mr. Shaw?" he asked. 

"I am sorry to say it is," was the reply. ''At the 
same time," he added, significantly, ''if you suspect 
any crooked work" — . 

"No, no," said the paymaster, hastily. "I only 
wanted to know my rights in this afiFair. Fifteen 
minutes, you said?" 

"Yes; and no more." 

During the entire game a young well dressed 
man had been standing near the paymaster, watch- 
ing with evident anxiety the progress of the game. 
It was his clerk, although no one knew^ of their re- 
lations and to the clerk the paymaster now turned 
and said, "Charley, go to my state room and bring 
me my valise." 

The clerk who had been very red now turned 
pale, and made an efifort to speak, but was silenced 
with an imperative wave of the hand. He went 
away and when he returned and placed a bulky 
valise by the paymaster's knee, he was trembling 
in every limb. 

By this time the tension was tremendous. Every 
eye was fixed on the paymaster, and the gamblers 



THE EARLY DAYS OF POKER. 29 

began to realize that something was going to hap- 
pen that boded them no good. The paymaster 
opened the bag, and took out package after pack- 
age of crisp banknotes and laid them on the. table. 

"Now, gentlemen," he said, pleasantly, ''since 
you insist upon playing without limit I am obliged 
to acquiesce. I will see your sixty-five hundred 
and raise you fifty thousand !" 

Two of the gamblers gave vent to an involuntary 
cry of surprise, while the third fell back in his chair 
with white face and clenched lips. The paymaster 
put his hand in a casual way in his breast pocket, 
his clerk did the same, and Mr. Shaw moved a step 
nearer the table. But the gamblers were in no 
mood for violence, especially as they saw no sym- 
pathy in the eyes of the spectators. 

The paymaster pulled out his watch, and in a 
tone as insolent as the other had assumed, said : 

'T'll give you just fifteen minutes to see the raise, 
or ril take the pot." 

The three men looked at each other in mute de- 
spair. There wasn't a station within ten miles and 
not a man on the boat that would have let them 
have fifty thousand on four aces under the circum- 
stances. They sat in moody silence for fifteen 
minutes, as if hoping that the money would drop 
through the roof, and at the end of that time, arose 
and walked away with as much indifference as they 
could assume. At the first landing they got off 



30 JACK POTS. 

and the paymaster packed his money back in the 
vaHse. It was Uncle Sam's money to pay troops, 
and if he had lost it, he had determined to kill 
himself; as it was he determined to never again 
play poker with strangers — at least, without a 
Hmit. 

Another anecdote of the river days of long ago 
brings to view a character that could hardly exist 
now and be famous in the same way. The scene 
is laid on the steamer Orleans, running between 
Natchez and New Orleans in the fall of 1832. 

A young man of Natchez, going North in sum- 
mer on his wedding trip, had been commissioned 
by a number of merchants and planters in his 
neighborhood to collect various accounts due them 
in New York and other places which he proposed 
to visit. The young man was the soul of honor, 
but not very strong in resolution; in fact, he was 
rather an easy mark if worked in the proper way. 

Unfortunately this became known to the ring of 
gamblers who were working the rivers, and they 
laid their plans accordingly. Some of their mem- 
bers made his acquaintance in New York, and 
learned that he would return South by way of 
Pittsburg, where he was to take the boat for Louis- 
ville, and after spending a few days there, take an- 
other boat for New Orleans that stopped at 
Natchez. In pursuance of the plan, one of the 
gang met him on the boat at Pittsburg and intro- 



THE EARLY DAYS OF POKER. $1 

duced him to two alleged Louisiana planters who 
made themselves quite agreeable. On the way 
down to Louisville, several friendly games of poker 
were played, in all of which the young man came 
out a little ahead, so that he was in high good 
humor when they got ready to pluck him in ear- 
nest, which was on board the Orleans. 

The game was played with a short deck of thirty- 
two cards, the same as a euchre deck, which of 
course was conducive to holding fat hands in al- 
most every deal, and led to high betting. The 
three confederates worked the cross lifting trick 
on the victim, together with an occasional bit of 
cheating, until the poor fellow had but a few thou- 
sands left when the boat neared Vicksburg, where 
it was the sharpers' intention to give him the shake. 
The poor fellow was already nearly crazed w^ith 
his losses, realizing that he was not only ruined but 
dishonored, and his yoimg wife was in terrible dis- 
tress over this unlooked for termination of their 
honeymoon. Yet he kept on playing on the des- 
perate chance of redeeming his money. 

When the boat was within a half day's run of 
Vicksburg there came on board a tall man with a 
smooth shaven face, who looked like a preacher, 
and he with others stood looking at the game in 
the men's cabin. x\t midnight the last dollar of the 
dupe had been raked in, and rising from the table, 
he rushed wildlv to the side of the vessel, and was 



32 



JACK POTS. 



only prevented by his wife's arms from throwing 
himself overboard. 

Suddenly the clerical looking man made his ap- 
pearance by the side of the distracted wife, and 

said, quietly, 'Take 



him to your cabin, 
and watch h i m 
closely until I re- 
turn." 

Going back to the 
cabin where the 
gamblers were hav- 
ing a hilarious time 
at the bar, the stran- 
ger drew out an im- 
mense roll of notes, 
and asked the bar- 
tender to change a 
hundred dollar bill. 

Was only prevented by his wife's arms from ^ ^ ^^^^ "-^ Oblige 

throwing himself overboard. VOU but I Cau't " 

was the reply. '' Perhaps some of these gentlemen 
can do it." 

One of the gamblers very readily made the de- 
sired change, and also invited the stranger to have 
a drink. They soon fell into conversation, and it 
was not long until a game of poker was proposed, 
and after some demur the stranger consented. 

The ante was five dollars, and as there was al- 




THE EARLY DAYS OF POKER. 33 

ways a straddle, it rarely cost less than forty dol- 
lars to play, and the betting" ran rather high. The 
stranger managed to keep a little ahead of the 
game until near morning, and then came the 
crucial hand. 

The pot was fattened up to nearly five hundred 
dollars before the draw, and then the betting was 
fast and furious. Finally two ol the players 
dropped out, leaving only a big whiskered fellow 
and the stranger. As the bets rose by thousands 
the gambler's face began to assume an anxious 
look, while the other was pale and cool, rather 
sleepy in fact, although he never took his eyes off 
his adversary's hands. 

At last more than seventy thousand dollars 
were piled up on the cloth, and the stranger said 
quietly, "I call you." Then he added sharply: 
*'One moment, please." He laid his cards face up 
on the table, disclosing four kings and a ten. 'This 
is poker, and five cards constitute a hand. If you 
can show four aces, and no more than five cards 
in your hand, the pot is yours. But," and here, 
with a sudden movement he drew from his coat a 
long and keen knife, ''if you have more or less than 
five cards I will kill you where you sit." 

The gambler held his cards in his hands in front 
of him, and it was noticed that they trembled per- 
ceptibly. The stranger held the deadly knife in 
his hand, and although he was still pale, and his 



34 



JACK POTS. 



voice had not been raised above its usual tones, 
his eyes glowed like fire, and he looked like an 
avenging demon. All three gamblers were armed, 
but none made a movement to draw a weapon, and 
they sat there for a minute the very pictures of 
baffled villainy. 

''Come," said the stranger, smoothly. "Your 
hand has been called; what have you got? Don't 

take your hands 
out of sight ; show 
down the cards 
just as they are." 
The gambler 
wavered, looked 
at his compan- 
ions furtively and 
saw no encour- 
agement in their 
faces, and then 
with a muttered curse, threw 
his hand into the deck. The 
stranger with his left hand 
took off his large felt hat, swept the money into it, 
and clapped it on his head, keeping the knife in his 
right hand all the time. 

"Now, gentlemen," he said, suavely, 'T am 
going to restore the money you have robbed to 
the victim. It is fortunate for you," he added, turn- 
ing to his opponent, "that you did not disclose 




But! and here, with a sudden 
movement he drew from his 
coat a long and keen knife. 



THE EARLY DAYS OF POKER. 35 

your hand with its four aces, because it had six 
cards, and you wouldn't have been ahve now. The 
next time you fleece a gentleman learn to have 
more mercy." 

As he turned to go after this little lecture, one 
of the gamblers cried: ''Who the devil are you?" 

"James Bowie," was the answer. 

The voice was like velvet, but the sharpers 
jumped as if shot. Bowie was known from one end 
of the river to the other, and it was a surprising 
chance that he had not been recognized by any one 
in the cabin. But the name was enough ; the gam- 
blers shrank away from this dreaded man who, 
without another glance, made his way to the cabin 
where the wife was still trying to soothe her hus- 
band's grief. 

Bowie emptied the contents of his hat before the 
astounded pair, and in a few minutes the young 
man was in possession of all that he had lost. 

"Now, my dear sir," said the noted duellist, "let 
me advise you as a man of the world to never 
touch another card. You see how nearly it has 
brought you to shame ; believe me it can never 
bring you happiness. Before I leave you, let me 
have your sworn promise." 

The young man took the oath with tears in his 
eyes, and then begged that his benefactor accom- 
pany him home, but Bowie refused, and at the first 
landing place, got off the boat, and they never saw 
him afterward. 



CHAPTER III. 

POKER IN WASHINGTON A STORY OF HENRY^ CLAY 

CABINET PLAYERS MAHONE'S RULE 

WHEN REED WAS CALLED. 

Washington is popularly regarded as the great 
poker center of the United States, and there are 
many reasons for the belief. There is a feverish 
air about Washington life that conduces to card 
playing. Public office is largely a game of chance 
in this country, despite the strides made by the 
Civil Service, and the man who goes to Washing- 
ton in an official capacity feels that he will be there 
to-day and home to-morrow. Very few of the thou- 
sands of clerks regard their places as more than 
temporary until they have been there at least five 
years, and by that time they have contracted habits 
of careless spending that they can hardly throw off. 

Then there comes every two years to the na- 
tion's capital a number of new congressmen who 
feel flushed with wealth on a salary of five thou- 
sand a year. Many of them could not earn half 
that sum at their occupation, and especially as the 
money comes easily they fritter away a great deal 
of it in dissipation. To these classes are to be 
added the diplomatic corps, many of the attaches 
being young bloods sent abroad for the good of 

36 



POKER IN WASHINGTON. 37 

the family, and they have nothing to do with their 
salaries but to spend them in good living, and that 
includes card playing. In addition, when Congress 
is in session, the whole town is in a fever of excite- 
ment, and the easiest way to work off the surplus 
steam is with a pack of cards. 

Washington is full of poker stories, because 
from all accounts, every administration, at least 
from Jackson's down, indulged in the game. Lin- 
coln didn't ; he was of too serious mood to care for 
the game; and of course, Hayes wouldn't touch a 
card; although there is reason to think that he 
knew something about the game. Arthur was a 
splendid player; Garfield, only fair. Cleveland's 
cabinet was full of poker players; and — although 
you wouldn't think it to look at his grave and al- 
most solemn features — Gresham was king of them 
all. Carlisle is a shrewd player but lacks nerve — 
that is, he can't bluff 'successfully. 

It doesn't sound likely, but they say that Cleve- 
land did not learn to play poker until he came to 
Washington. He went off on one of his famous 
duck hunting expeditions with Gresham and Car- 
lisle, and when he came back he had been inocu- 
lated. After that he took a hand whenever the 
opportunity offered, but he always played a small 
game ; rarely winning or losing more than ten dol- 
lars at a sitting. Dan Lamont used to play heavily 
before he got into public life, but w^hen he saw the 
possibilities he dropped poker. , 

V 



\^ 



38 



JACK POTS. 



Going back to the old timers, practically all of 
the congressmen before the war played poker, and 
did not try to conceal it as they do now. Henry 
Clay was a famous player, and won a fortune in 
his time. There is a funny story about Clay that 
illustrates the character of the man. 

There was in Washington an old darkey whom 
Clay had befriended, a poor fellow who had quite 

a reputation 
among his people 
as a preacher. 
One day as the 
great Kentucky 
senator was 
strolling down 
Pennsylvania Av- 
enue, the old fel- 
low tackled him. 
It was on Sunday 




mornmg. 



B o b," 
'you're 



"Well, 
said he, 
up early." 

''Y e s, Marse 
Henry; de airly 
bird ketches de 
worm." 
''Oh, you are worm hunting, are you?" 
"No, Marse Henry," said the old fellow, sol- 
emnly, "TsQ lookin' for help for my little church." 



Bob, here is fifty dollars that I won at 
poker last night. 



POKER IN WASHINGTON. 39 

"I won't give you a cent," said Clay, decidedly. 
"I gave you something only last week for your 
church." 

"Yes, Marse Henry, so you did; and dat," rais- 
ing his eyes piously, ''dat's a treasure laid up for 
you in Hebben." 

''Oh, is it?" said the Senator, smiling. Then he 
pulled out of his pocket a roll of bills, and con- 
tinued. "Bob, here is fifty dollars I won at po- 
ker last night. Now, if you can reconcile it with 
your conscience to use money got in that way 
for church purposes, take it along." 

Old Bob bowed and pulled his cap. 

^'Sarvant, Marse Henry; thankee, sah. God do 
move in a musterious way his wonders to per- 
form." 

x-\nd he walked ofi. with the money. 

Another Kentucky man, a senator, although not 
from that State, says that his seat there and all he 
has besides is due to a poker game, and tries to 
prove it with the following story. 

''I was born and bred in old Kentucky, and 
strange as it sounds, it was in a highly moral town 
where games of chance were not tolerated. It was 
no use bucking against the law; no matter what 
the position in life of the offender, if he was caught 
gambling up he went. But of course there was 
gambling, and the very lawyers and judges that en- 
forced the law would take every opportunity to 
have a quiet game, 



40 JACK POTS. 

"One night, during a June term of court, the 
judge and visiting lawyers arranged for a game, 
and as it would never do to make such a venture in 
the hotel, a flatboat moored at the foot of the levee 
was pitched upon as an ideal place. Jt was supposed 
that it would be out of sight and hearing of the 
moral little burg. 

"Accordingly that night two tables were set up 
in the cabin, and nine members of the legal profes- 
sion were bending over the game with all the na- 
tive ardor of Kentucky gentlemen. It was about 
this time that I, in company with a friend, strolled 
in the vicinity of the flatboat. I was about twenty 
years of age and had no money, and my friend was 
on a par. 

''On discovering the old folks thus engaged a de- 
sire to be humorous swept over us. We were law 
students ; they were full fledged, and that was rea- 
son enough for the joke. We cast off the boat, 
and silently she drifted away on the dark bosom 
of the river. The grave and reverend gamesters 
drew and filled and straddled, until along about two 
o'clock in the morning, and then Colonel Bugg 
concluded he had better quit, and look over his 
brief for next day. The gallant old fellow put on 
his hat, bade every one good night, walked off 
where he thought the gang plank ought to be — 
and w^alked into twenty feet of water ! 

"Of course there was a howl for help, and he 



POKER IN WASHINGTON. 



41 



was fished out with considerable difficulty. Then 
the startling discovery was made that the boat 
was twenty miles down stream. The whoops and 
yells of the voy- 
agers finally 
brought a tug to 
the rescue, and 
they were towed 
back to town — 
only to find the 
town officers 
waiting to run in 
the whole party. 
In the frank en- 
thusiasm of youth 
we had related 
our doings, and 
there was no es- 
cape from the 
stern rule of jus- 
tice. 

'There was a 
terrible row over the affair. Publicly we were com- 
mended, privately we were threatened with death 
by the gentlemen we had betrayed, and we knew 
that some of them would shoot on sight. We took 
counsel of our fears, and lit out for the West. 

'That was forty-five years ago. My partner in 
villainy is now a United States Judge, and I am 




Walked off where he thought the gang 
plank ought to be. 



42 JACK POTS. 

a Senator. We often discuss the past, and we lay 
everything to that flatboat poker game." 
^ When General Mahone held Virginia in his vest 
pocket he was a figure in Washington poker cir- 
cles. He was cool and nervy, and withal played 
poker Hke a gentleman. 

Once he was in a game at Chamberlin's, which 
included several Senators, and nobody was winning 
or losing very much ; in fact the game was rather 
slow which probably suggested what follows. A 
deal was just beginning where Mahone was the 
age, and the General had anted when a waiter 
called him from the room to speak to some gentle- 
man who wanted to see him. 

As he closed the door behind him the Western 
Senator who was dealing remarked : 

''Let's put up a joke on Mahone. I'll deal him 

three queens on the go-off and fix up B next 

him with a straight flush, and then let Mahone get 
another queen in the draw. I'd like to see how 
long and how hard the General will bet four 
queens. Of course we can give the money back 
afterwards." 

The others thought this a good joke, and the 
hands were fixed up accordingly. Everybody had 
picked up his hand when the General came back, 
and as he took his seat and reached for his cards, 
the dealer remarked, ''Hurry up, General, we're 
waiting for you." 



POKER IN WASHINGTON. 43 

General Mahone looked at his hand, discarded, 
and said: ''Give me one card." 

The dealer gave the General the fourth queen 

which lay on the top of the deck, and gave B 

next to him one card — the diamond he was after. 

And then they all leaned back to see B and the 

General buck each other, and to hear what the 
General would say when he lost on four queens. 

It was B 's first bet, and he threw down a 

white chip. Of course everybody was confident 
the General would raise him. That was where they 
were disappointed. To their amazement, and with- 
out a moment's hesitation, without a word of com- 
ment or any gesture that would indicate either sur- 
prise or disgust, Mahone threw his hand into the 

discard, and as nobody had bet against B he 

took in the little pot without opposition. 

Mahone then reached for the deck and pro- 
ceeded to calmly shuf^e the cards for the next deal. 
The others looked at each other in surprise, and the 
Senator who had put up the hands, said with a 
laugh : 

"B , you had better give the General his 

ante." 

Then they all laughed, while Mahone betrayed 
mild surprise. 

''Why didn't you bet your four queens?" asked 
another player. "Did you suspect a joke or think 
some one was trying to rob you?" 



44 JACK POTS. 

"No, sir," replied General Mahone, with perfect 
gravity, "I have the utmost confidence in the hon- 
esty of every gentleman present, and I haven't the 
remotest idea that any one of you would rob me, 
but I make an inflexible rule to never bet a high 
hand when I have been absent through the deal. 
To be out of the room and then to return and pick 
up three queens and get a fourth on a one card 
draw is to me very alarming. So, of course, I 
threw my hand in the discard." 

**Well, General," said the Senator who dealt the 
cards, ''it was a joke, and I must compliment you 
on the manner in which you received it. It showed, 
sir, that you are a Southern gentleman, and was 
complimentary alike to yourself and to us." 

Then they called in a couple of cold bottles, and 
the game went on. 
%/ Ex-Speaker Reed used to relax on poker once 
in a while, but he was very moderate, and they say 
in Washington that he never raised more than fifty 
cents in his hfe. He was also noted for never win- 
ning anything, but takes his ill fortune with cool 
good nature. 

On one occasion at the Shoreham a small game 
was raging with great fury, and by some miracle 
Reed managed to capture a nine full. He saw / 
visions of fortune before him, especially as Riley of 
Pennsylvania^^a man who would bet a quarter 
without a quiver — showed a disposition to dispute 



POKER IN WASHINGTON. 



45 



the pot with him. So he went diHgently to work to 
raise Riley. And the reckless Riley on his part 
invariably raised the Speaker, without any rev- 
erence whatever. 

So they kept see-sawing until the total of the 
wealth on the green cloth must have equalled six 
dollars. At last 
Reed called, and 
to his disgust 
Riley laid down a 
queen full. As he 
spread the cards 
out on the table, 
Reed peered over 
them with much 
the same air tliat 
he used to employ 
to count the 

House on a rismg He saw visions of fortunes before him. 

vote, and then as 

he settled back in his chair, he drawled forth dis- 
gustedly that formula wherewith the Speaker an- 
nounces that a call for the ayes and noes has been 
voted. 

"Clearly a sufficient number," he said, and Riley 
raked in the pot. 

(^Senator Wolcott is one of the coolest men liv- 
ing when engaged in a poker game. Like most 
men whose early manhood has been spent on the 




46 JACK POTS. 

frontier, he learned the vahie of a poker hand, and 
he was known as a hmit player all over Colorado 
before he ever gained any fame as a lawyer. 

Wolcott once found himself in a poker game 
where three of the other players were working a 
sure thing. They were professionals and were after 
a big bundle that Wolcott was known to have, as 
well as looking out for the wad of Durkin, the fifth 
player, a mining operator. Durkin was uncon- 
scious but Wolcott knew in twenty minutes after 
the first hand was dealt that the intention was to 
rob him, and set his mind to find his way out. 

At last he was dealt a pat flush of diamonds, 
made up of the five, seven, eight, nine and jack. 
He skinned these cards over and did a heap of 
thinking. He felt in his bones that a flush would 
be no good on the show down, but he chipped in 
and stayed to draw cards. 

He wasn't raised before the draw, and that 
strengthened his impression, so he looked over his 
red hand and concluded to draw a card in order if 
possible to straighten the sequence. He pondered 
a long time which to let go but finally threw away 
the jack, and called for a card. The dealer could 
not conceal his surprise at his wanting any, but 
gave him the card. 

Wolcott picked it up and found that he had got 
the six spot of diamonds. He never turned a hair. 
The betting began and he nursed the sequence, and 



POKER IN WASHINGTON. 47 

just stayed along, letting the other fellows do the 
raising. At last it got down to Wolcott and one 
of the professionals. Finally there was a call, and 
the other man showed four queens. Wolcott laid 
down the five, six, seven, eight and nine of dia- 
monds and swept in the pot. Then he took Durkin 
by the collar and marched him out of the room. 
He said afterwards that it was the greatest piece of 
luck that he ever had in a poker game. 
VSenator Harris, of Tennessee, used to be an in- 
veterate poker player, and his limit was penny- 
ante. During the struggle over the Wilson Tarifif 
Bill, when the whole country was churned up, the 
House was surprised one day to see the venerable 
•statesman wandering about inquiring for Repre- 
uSentative Tarsney. When he found him, the tw^o 
men engaged in an animated conversation for ten 
minutes, and the people in the gallery, and all the 
correspondents were tremendously excited. Tars- 
ney was a member of the Ways and Means Com- 
mittee, and this talk with Harris was no doubt due 
to some tariff complication that would affect the 
pending bill. 

The correspondents hammered out many an ex- 
citing tale about this conference, and it was only 
by interviewing Tarsney that the truth came out. 

"Tarsney," said Senator Harris, solemnly, *T 
want you to come to my rooms to-night to play 
penny ante. Do you play penny ante, Tarsney?" 



48 JACK POTS. 

''Yes," said Tarsney, with equal solemnity, "I 
do, whenever I can gain the consent of my wife." 

'Then," said Senator Harris, fiercely, "get your 
wife's consent^ and come over to my room to-night. 
Blackburn will be here, and I will get DuBois. 
The limit is twenty-five cents, and the ante is two- 
call-five. You know the rules of my room, sir?" 

"No, I don't." 

"Well, sir," went on Senator Harris, still keeping 
up his tone of determined fury, "the rules of my 
room are these. As we sit down to the game I 
give every gentleman present a drink of Tennes- 
see whiskey that is fifty years old, sir. After that 
nobody gets a drink unless he loses money to me. 
If those rules are agreeable to you, sir, I shall be 
proud to see you at my rooms to-night." 

Tarsney was there, and he took care to lose a pot 
occasionally to the host. 

As a rule the diplomatic corps is treated with 
elaborate politeness by the residents of Washing- 
ton as it is Understood that they are not used to 
our ways and it is advisable to not convey wrong 
impressions. But occasionally, the love of a joke 
gets away with the young bloods, and they play a 
prank. 

Herr Von S of the German embassy was a 

popular diplomat, and had been taught the game 
of poker, or the rudiments, and that was the basis 
of the joke. A party of young bloods got him 



POKER IN WASHINGTON. 49 

into a social game and on the fifth or sixth hand, 
dealt him six cards. On discovering this fact, he 
laid them down, remarking that he would not play 
that hand. 

The dealer asked the reason, and when told, pre- 
tended to be highly offended, and declared that it 
was a reflection on him, and that the German must 
play the hand. The foreigner reiterated the state- 
ment that he would not play it. Then the fun 
began. 

The players began to wrangle among themselves 
over the decision, took sides, and in a few minutes, 
there was a flash of steel, pistols leaped from hip 
pockets, dirks, bowie knives, and even razors w^ere 
drawn. The air also became lurid with profanity 
that would have enlightened a cowboy in the elas- 
ticity and scope of the English language. 

Appalled at such an amazing spectacle, Herr 

Von S must have felt cold chills running up 

and down his spine, but he never weakened. With 
a nerve and manliness that equalled anything ever 
seen on the field of battle, he rose to his feet, and 
said, ''Gentlemen, I know not this game entirely, 
but I have been told that I am right. I will not 
play these cards. My life is in your hands.". 

The joke had gone too far however for the 
young bloods to be satisfied with such a tame end- 
ing, and they kept up their wild whoops, and the 
flourishing of weapons. Then they apparently be- 



so 



JACK POTS. 



gan fighting among themselves, shooting point 
blank, clutching throats with vengeful fury and 
stabbing like wild men. In the midst of it all the 
German made his way out of the room. 

Afterward, in 
A f tA<>^^^ speaking of the 

truly American 
game of cards 
in which he had 
taken part, he 
gave a brief and 
very graphic 
account of the 
manner in 
which his exit 
had been accomplished: 

"I was a great many 
times getting out of the 
door." 

One night on 
Hill there was a 




"I will not play these cards. My 
life is in your hands." 



Capitol 
remark- 
able game of poker, in which no Congressmen or 
diplom.ats were engaged. There were just four old 
cronies, all business men. They had just dropped 
in, and began to talk over old times when they 
were youngsters. Some one remembered the way 
they used to play poker with gun wads for chips 
and a dry goods box in the back shed for a table, 
so it wasn't singular that some other one suggested 



POKER IN WASHINGTON. 51 

that it would be a good idea to have a game just 
for old times. 

The host got out a deck of cards and his wife's 
button bag, and it happened that there were 
twenty buttons apiece. Then there was a raking of 
pockets which disclosed the fact that there wasn't 
more than two dollars in cash in the crowd. 

The game then proceeded, but after only a few 
hands the host remarked in a casual way that he 
wished they were playing sure enough poker. The 
man to his left skinned over his cards, acquiesced 
in the desire, and, strange to say, the two other 
men said they were more than willing to make it 
the real thing for that hand anyhow. 

The buttons had been bet already, and as there 
was no money in the party, it was decided to use 
simple articles easy of identification as markers 
for the amounts each player should bet. With this 
understanding the limit was taken off, and the fun 
began. 

The host bet ten dollars and put up a cigar as a 
marker, and the next man raised it and shoved in 
a key ring as a representative of forty dollars. So 
it went around until there was on the table an ag- 
glomeration of the various things men carry in 
their pockets. 

When they got ready to draw cards the expect 
ant dealer was amazed to find that none of the 
players wanted any, and just to be in the fashion 



52 



JACK POTS. 



he didn't take any himself. Then the betting be- 
gan furiously, and everything the players had witli 

the m, whose disap- 
pearance would not 
cause too much 
inquiry on the 
part of their 
wives were put 
up as markers for 
their bets. 

At last it came 
around to the 
host for the fifth 
time and he de- 
termined to call. 
He reached out 
and picked up an 
empty coal scut- 
tle. 

"This goes for 
sixty dollars," he 
said, hoarsely. "I've got four jacks." 

The other players laid down respectively a nine 
full on five, a seven full on kings and four deuces. 
The winner swept all the markers into the coal 
scuttle and the game broke up. The next day the 
coal scuttle man received $260 apiece from each of 
the other men. 




"This goes for sixty dollars " he said, 
hoarsely, "I've got four jacks." 



CHAPTER IV. 

POKER IN LONDON AND PARIS JOHN BULL'S TWO 

PAIR A GAME WITH THE PRINCE 

OF WALES. 

It is a long cry from Washington to London, 
but not where cards are concerned. As explained 
at the beginning poker has never taken deep root 
in Great Britain, but it occasionally crops out with 
generally humorous results. 

On the staff of the American legation in London 
some years ago there was a Major, who, like all 
army officers, could play a stiff game, but who had 
been rather out of his element for several months, 
as our Minister was a man who frowned on gam- 
bling in any form and that kept the staff subdued. 
But one day there came to town a couple of the 
Major's friends from the land of the stars and 
stripes, and the trio had two or three little sittings 
to the refreshment of all concerned. 

Then one night the Americans brought to the 
Major's rooms a Scotch manufacturer and an Eng- 
lish M. P., a regular John Bull, gentlemanly and 
pig-headed as they make them. After drinks and 
cigars around, one of the Americans suggested 
poker, but the Alajor demurred. Poker, he re- 
marked, was a very dangerous game, particularly 

53 



54 JACK POTS. 

as his friends (he modestly omitted any reference 
to himself) were hot stuff, and it was possible to 
lose considerable money at the pastime without 
half trying. 

At this the Scotchman remarked that he had 
learned the game in the States, and he thought he 
was cautious enough to restrain his ardor, and 
the Englishman said that he knew he had to learn 
the game sometime in his life, and this seemed a 
fitting opportunity. 

''V\\ take five pounds' worth of chips as a 
starter," said he, "and if some one will kindly mark 
the value of the hands on a piece of paper, I'll pick 
up the game as I go along." 

"I don't like the idea of playing poker with a 
man who knows absolutely nothing about the 
game, particularly in my own rooms," said the 
Major, with an anxious look at the others. 

But the Englishman was insistent, and as there 
was risk of offending him if refusal was persisted 
in, the Major gave way. The American who sat 
on the right of the M. P. marked the value of the 
hands on a sheet of paper, and passed it around. 
It was all right, and, after a few other minutes 
passed in explaining about the deal and the draw, 
the game started. 

The limit was five shillings. For an hour there 
was no decided advantage, and although, like all 
new players, the Englishman had a proclivity for 



POKER IN LONDON AND PARIS. 55 

coming in on every hand, he held his own. He 
also showed the peculiarity of new players in re- 
garding two pairs as a world beater, and he re- 
marked several times that they looked much bigger 
than threes. 

In the middle of the second hour there w^as an 
intermission for refreshments. You know what 
that is. Nobody stops playing; time is too pre- 
cious for that. Each man grabs a sandwich or 
whatever there is to devour and chews at it, while 
with the other hand he skins his cards or fingers 
his chips. This was a new feature to the English- 
man, and it seemed to affect his luck when the 
game was resumed in earnest. At any rate he 
made a half dozen disastrous bets, on all of which 
the Major profited. 

Then the game went on in a monotonous way, 
and the Americans could not fail to observe that 
the M. P. was thinking that this great American 
game was no great shakes after all. Then, of 
course, came the star hand, of which there is al- 
ways one if you play long enough. 

It was the Major's deal, and the Englishman had 
the age. The American on his left dropped out, 
but all th'e others came in. There was a raise be- 
fore the draw, and the man who had dropped out 
looked at the Englishman's hand and advised him 
to stay. The Englishman took one card ; the other 
three drew three cards. 



56 



JACK POTS. 



The first man bet a chip, the Scotchman saw it, 
the Major Hfted it five shilhngs and the M. P. bet 
the Hmit. The American — who had three tens and 
a pair of fours — reciprocated, the Scotchman pru- 
dently dropped out, and the Major tihed it the 
hmit. The American looked at his full house with 
an inquiring air, and simply stayed, but when the 
Major and the honorable member from Stogis-on- 
the-Des raised the limit again, he soured on his 

hand and threw it 
into the deck. 
This left the bet- 
ting between the 
Major and John 
Bull. 

After about six 
raises the Major 
thought it had 
gone far enough, 
and said, warn- 
ingly, 'T'd go a 
bit slow, old man, 
remember, this is your first 
game of poker." 

By this time the other 
American had taken a look 
at the Englishman's hand, 
and whispered something 
in his ear, with the result that he promptly 




The three had a drink and seemed 

so hilarious that they 

nearly choked. 



POKER IN LONDON AND PARIS. 57 

raised the Major. Then both Americans went 
oft to the other end of the room where there 
was a bottle of the real stuff, and took a drink with 
much merriment. After about ten more raises the 
Englishman had to buy more chips, which gave 
the Major another opportifnity to remind him that 
this was his first game of poker and that he must 
not bet over the strength of his hand. 

"That's all right," responded the stubborn John 
Bull, and he threw another half sovereign in the 
pot. 

''Now, old chap," said the Major, solemnly, 
"don't blame me if you lose your money." 

At this the two Americans took the Scotchman 
over to the sideboard, and the three had a drink 
and seemed so hilarious that they nearly choked. 
The Major was rather nettled at this, and remarked 
that they had better be giving their friend some 
good advice, than laughing like hyenas. The only 
result of their admonition was that the three men 
went off into convulsions, and one man actually 
went into the adjoining bed room, threw himself 
down, and fairly yelled. Whenever the Major sug- 
gested to the Englishman that he really ought to 
call or else he would be sorry for it, there came 
another roar from the trio. 

Finally John Bull got to the end of his money 
and putting his last half sovereign in the pot, he 
said, "I'll call you. What have you got?" 



S8 JACK POTS. 

Hearing this the others rushed up to the table. 
The Major looked at the pot, but did not reach for 
it. He did not want to be in a hurry because he 
knew it was his, and he hated to hurt the English- 
man's feelings. At last he said very slowly and 
almost sorrowfully, "I've got four jacks." 

The Englishman laid his cards face upwards on 
the table, and asked ''Do I wan?" He had four 
kings. 

It took the Major some time to take in the full 
humor of the situation, but he did. The painful 
feature of the affair was that the Englishrnan 
thought he was betting his money on two pairs. 
He had simply followed the advice of the Ameri- 
can, who, upon seeing his cards, had advised him to 
''bet until he was dead." 

He did not go quite so far as that, which was a 
good thing for the Major. 

It is only a step across the Channel, and we are 
in Paris — "gay Paree,'' you know, where all good 
Americans go when they die. Of course Parisians 
play cards, and they actually play poker, but in a 
way that Americans would hardly recognize. It is 
a kind of mixture of a sand bag and a freeze out, 
with the dangerous qualities of each. 

It starts ofif in a club, and a steward or croupier, 
or whatever his name may be, holds in his hands a 
list of names. The first six on the list are "sitting 
in." Each has declared his stake ; one $50, another 



POKER IN LONDON AND PARIS 59 

$80, another $75, and so on, the limit of the dec- 
laration being, for instance, $100. Chips arc 
handed to each to represent the varying values, 
and the game begins. 

The limit of betting is the amount of chips be- 
fore the player. The man with the $100 worth of 
chips, to make a supposition, bets all of it on the 
third deal. What becomes of -the man with $50, 
if he has a good hand? He may put up his fifty 
dollars, and get a sight for his money, and so with 
ihe others. If he loses he is gone — scratched off 
the list — and the steward reads ofT another name 
to take his place. 

There is no half way about it; it is win or bust 
all the time. The Frenchmen have understood 
that poker is a game of bluff and- high betting, and 
nothing else ; they have missed entirely the quieter 
features that make it loved. If four out of the six 
are willing to play moderately, following some- 
thing like the value of their hands, the other two 
would shame them, dare them, crowd them. The 
average Frenchman cannot stand to be ridiculed. 
Around the table is a double row of spectators, and 
they are in a continual state of awe and admira- 
tion over the skill and daring of the bluffers, so 
the sensible fellows are g^oaded until in a rash mo- 
ment they plunge down their little pile, and out 
they go. 

Every once in a while an American gets intro- 



6o JACK POTS. 

duced to this French game of poker, and makes 
up his mind to stand these sports on their heads, 
but he doesn't. There are too many anoularities 
about the game for him to grasp in less than a half 
dozen sittings, and by that time his money is all 
gone. 

On one of his flying trips to the Continent, our 
Parson Davies ran up against this sweet game, and 
after being scratched five nights in succession, de- 
clared that he thought poker as played in Paris de- 
cidedly immoral. 

It does not follow from this that there is no real 
poker played in Paris. There are enough Ameri- 
cans, and all kinds of Americans to introduce any- 
thing. They play among themselves, and have in- 
troduced it into boarding houses, but they cannot 
get the Frenchmen to play the game among them- 
selves as it should be played. What the Parisians 
need is an American Minister like Schenck to edu- 
cate them. 

As said once before General Schenck was not 
really an inveterate poker player, although he will 
go down to history with a reputation on account of 
the little treatise he wrote on the game, but he 
could play with the best of them when in the 
humor. A big corporation lawyer tells a story that 
illustrates what a high roller Schenck could be. 

'T was in London on business," said the lawyer, 
"and having known Schenck in America, called on 



POKER IN LONDON AND PARIS. 6i 

him. He greeted me very cordially, showed me 
around town and in a general way did the proper 
thing. 

" 'By the way/ said he, as we were about to sep- 
arate one morning, 'what are you going to do this 
evening?' 

*'I replied that I had nothing particular in view. 

" Then,' said Schenck, cordially, 'there is going 
to be a poker game at the Langham, and if you 
care for the exercise I'd like to take you in. The 
Prince of Wales will be one of the party.' 

"Of course I couldn't resist that. I reflected 
that it isn't often that an American citizen has a 
chance to draw cards, raise and bluff against a real 
prince, not an imitation Russian afTair, but a sure 
enough heir apparent. I didn't care two cents for 
poker — and, as a true born American, I ought not 
to have cared for a prince of the blood — but it 
would be an experience to tell my children wdien 
they grew up, how their daddy beat the Prince of 
Wales. Of course I counted on that. 

"So I told Schenck I'd be there without fail, and 
he expressed himself as very well pleased. One 
thing I forgot. I didn't ask about the limit, but as 
I had about two thousand dollars in good Ameri- 
can money, I felt elegantly and superciliously safe. 
Even if there was pretty high play, I would be 
there. 

"Six o'clock came and I was at the Langham, 



62 JACK POTS. 

and the others came m later. With the Prince of 
Wales came Anselm Rothschild and the Duke of 
Marlborough, and these with ^Minister Schenck 
and myself were to make up the game. I want to 
say right here that the Prince is a gentleman from 
the ground up. If he feels himself any better than 
his fellow men, and no one can blame him if he 
does, he never shows it, at least to Americans. 
They have a saying in England that if the tight 
little island ever becomes a republic, the Prince of 
Wales would be elected President by a unanimous 
vote, and I believe it. 

*7ust after I was presented to the Prince I asked 
Schenck in a whisper what limit was usually fixed 
at these poker festivals, and, to my horror, he re- 
plied in a careless aside that there was no limit. 

"The Prince wouldn't listen to such thing as a 
limit, explained Schenck. It would be beneath his 
dignity to suggest a thing like that. 

'T felt a cold chill running down my back, and 
my two thousand dollars reposing in the vault of 
the Bank of England began to assume the appear- 
ance of very small potatoes. Here I was about to 
buck up against England's heir apparent with the 
entire revenues of Great Britain to draw upon and 
a kindly Parliament to pay his debts, the Duke of 
Marlborough with something like a million a year, 
and a Rothschild, who could write his check for ten 
millions without turning a hair. I began to think 
of home and the dear old flag, and all that. 



POKER IN LONDON AND PARIS. 



63 



*'It Started the perspiration, but I was in and 
couldn't get out, so I made up my mind to stay 
long enough to lose about a hundred dollars, and 
then suddenly grow ill and extract myself. It 
wouldn't do to have stomach ache, which was a 
confoundedly plebeian ailment, and I deplored the 
fact that I was not subject to fits, but I thought I 
might ring in a pain of some kind, or perhaps fall 




" And the first thing his Royal Highness said was, "Give me one 
thousand pounds worth of chips.'' 

back on cold feet. Perhaps the Prince had been 
occasionally troubled in that way, and would sym- 
pathize with me. 

*'As we sat down, however, two things happened 
to disturb my dream of cold feet. Schenck was to 
bank and the first thing His Royal Highness said 
was : 



64 JACK POTS. 

'' 'Give me one thousand pounds worth of chips.' 
And he said it with no more emphasis than if it 
had been: 'Pass the pie.' 

"I began to reahze that I was hable to drop my 
Httle old two thousand the first hand, and perhaps 
before I had a chance to draw cards, and I in- 
wardly prayed for an earthquake. But earthquakes 
only visit London about once in a thousand years. 

"To add to my grief the Rothschild chap placed 
at his elbow a book of signed checks, with a blank 
space for him to write in the amount, which he did 
with a pencil, in a careless way as if he were keep- 
ing count of hams. The only glimmer of hope on 
the horizon was the conduct of the Duke of Marl- 
borough. He acted like a perfect gentleman and 
only bought two thousand dollars worth of checks. 

'T steered by him, and also bought two thou- 
sand dollars worth. Schenck gave me an approv- 
ing smile, and I learned afterward that I did the 
proper thing. It would not have been etiquette to 
buy as much as the Prince. I was mighty glad of 
that. I thought since that I would have been in 
a fine fix if etiquette had required me to stpck up 
with the Prince. 1 am afraid that I would have 
stuck our Minister for his year's salary, and he 
would never have spoken to me again. 

''The horrors of that eventful night I can never 
recall without a shudder. The ante was two 
pounds — ten dollars — but that was a mere detail. 



POKER IN LONDON AND PARIS. 65 

The Prince would look at his cards in a careless 
way, and remark T raise that a hundred pounds.' 

"The bloated villain Rothschild would flip the 
pasteboards in an indifferent manner, and observe, 
with the same indifference to my feelings, T'll see 
that and go fifty pounds better.' 

"These blood curdling remarks would take place 
before the draw, you understand. And then they 
would lean back, and puff at their fifty-cent cigars, 
call for what cards they wanted, and talk about 
bets of five to ten thousand dollars, or anything 
that happened to come into their wealthy heads. 

'*Oh, how I wished I was a copper king of Mon- 
tana, or a coal baron of Pennsylvania, or any other 
fellow rolling in wealth, so that I could have socked 
it to them ! I laid down hand after hand because 
I couldn't stand the strain. Td pick up two stout 
pair, get hoisted a couple of hundred before the 
draw, and then get knocked out with a bet of two 
thousand, and set back and see the Prince or 
Rothschild pull in the pot on a pair of nines. 

"That's the sort of company I was in, and I 
didn'lr^see my way out the least bit. Lots of times 
I felt morally certain that they were bluffing, but 
I couldn't risk five thousand dollars on my opinion, 
and I had to let it go. It wasn't poker at all ; it 
was more like highway robbery. It was just pos- 
sible that they might have a good hand and if I 
run up against one my friend Schenck would be 
ruined cashing my losses. 



66 JACK POTS. 

"At the end of an hour I was out twelve hundred 
dollars; simply anted it away, so to speak, and 
didn't have a bit of fun. Then, all of a sudden, I 
got hold of three aces. It happened to be a jack 
pot, very fat as you may believe, and I had them be- 
fore the draw. I said to myself that it was now or 
never, and I run my face for all sorts of raises. 
Talk about cold feet ! When I tell my children 
about that agonizing ten minutes, I never refer to 
my feelings, and let them understand that their dad 
was cool and collected. 

''But I wasn't. The Prince and the Duke and 
that Rothschild let me down rather easy — I sup- 
pose they took pity on me, as it was the first hand I 
had really played — at any rate there w^as a call, and 
I won ten thousand dollars on the hand. Then, oh, 
how I wished that I could get up and make my 
escape, but that would not have been etiquette, so 
I stayed on and kept on fooling away my chips as 
before. 

''The end of it was that the game broke up at 
midnight, and I was as happy as if I had w^on a 
prize in a lottery when I found that I was out only 
three hundred dollars. The experience was worth 
the money, and I have had lots of fun talking about 
it, but I w^ouldn't go through it again until I get 
to be about ten times a millionaire." 



CHAPTER V. 

POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE VARIOUS -DECISIONS BY 

LEGAL LUMINARIES — HOW THE JUDGE OVER- 
RULED THE MOTION THE SHERIFF 

TOOK THE POT. 

In the eyes of the law all gambling- is illegal and 
of course poker comes under the ban. Whenever 
the law gets mixed up with a poker game, the cards 
have to take a back seat. Yet the law, or the law- 
yers, who are the life of the law, are currently re- 
ported to know a great deal about poker from 
practical experience. It is supposed that they 
learn the game when they are young and do not 
realize how wicked it is. Then, when they advance 
in years, and have to take big fees from corpora- 
tions that can do no wrong, they forget all about 
the days of their youth. This probably accounts 
for some of the curious decisions we hear from 
the bench, when poker is in court. 

A New York man who kept a cigar store, was 
hauled up before a magistrate for keeping a gamb- 
ling den. A detective went into the room back of 
the store and found five longshoremen playing 
penny ante. 

'T have the kitty here as evidence," said the de- 
tective. 

67 



68 



JACK POTS. 



''What has a cat got to do with the game?" 
asked the magistrate. 

"I said a kitty," repUed the detective. 

*'Well, isn't a kitty a cat? Produce her." 

The detective explained what a kitty was, and 
the magistrate Hstened with a keen air, as if he 
was imbibing novel information. Then he de- 
manded to know who owned the kitty, and as the 




"Not always," chuckled the judge on the bench. 



cigar man said he didn't, and the longshoremen 
couldn't be found, the case was dismissed and the 
kitty was confiscated for the good of the poor. 

A judge on the district court bench of Minne- 
sota was more frank and also more learned. The 
business methods of a furniture dealer who made a 
sky rocket failure were being looked into, and in 



POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE. 69 

the course of the trial it was developed that he had 
been playing cards rather recklessly, and a story 
of how he went against a sure thing and lost $2,500 
at one sitting cropped out. 

It seems that the furniture man was introduced 
to a stranger at the Merchants' Hotel in St. Paul, 
and a game was soon raging. The three men were 
in it, and the introducer played the double cross on 
the furniture man. At a certain time he was to 
drop out and signal what the stranger had. 

The furniture man caught a bob tail flush, and 
his friend signalled that the stranger had only one 
small pair. Our friend then drew one card and 
proceeded to bluff. The stranger raised him, and 
in a short time $2,500 in bills were piled up. When 
the show down came our friend had nothing and 
the stranger scooped in the pot on a pair of jacks. 

"By the way," interrupted the creditor's counsel 
at this point, "which hand wins at poker?" 

"The best one, of course," was the disgusted an- 
swer. 

"Not always," chuckled the judge on the bench, 
and a prolonged laugh passed around the room. 

"You admit, then," continued the lawyer, se 
verely, "that, knowing as you did by your friend's 
pretty system of private telegraphy, that this 
stranger had only a small pair that you run up the 
stakes to $2,500?" 

"Yes, sir." 



70 JACK POTS. 

"Well, now wasn't that a very unusual proceed- 
ing?" 

''Oh, I don't know," broke in the judge, with 
the air of a man full of information on the subject 
under discussion, "I suppose the witness argued 
that having bet on the cards it was his best play to 
bluff the stranger out, because, you see, he drew 
only one card while the other man drew two, and 
had a pair of jacks all the time, don't you perceive? 
Under such circumstances a play of that kind 
would win nine times out of ten." 

Sojne of the old lawyers looked reproachfully at 
the judge for giving the thing away in that fashion, 
but the youngsters thought it the best joke of the 
session. 

Another learned jurist who could play poker was 
Judge Walker, of Kentucky, who was very strict 
/ on the bench but a jovial companion in private 
life. It had been the custom of the lawyers travel- 
ing the circuit to indulge in a friendly game of 
poker nearly every night after court adjourned, 
and Judge Walker occasionally took a hand in the 
game. 

One night in Bracken County the court and the- 
lawyers joined in a friendly game the evening they 
arrived, and the next morning before court oper d, 
the judge was seen in earnest conversation with the 
district attorney. 

When court opened the judge delivered the 
usual charge to the Grand Jury, and then added : 



POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE. 71 

*'I am informed that of late gambling- has been 
rampant in this county, despite vigorous efforts to 
suppress it, and it is your duty to bring to justice 
the occasional as well as the persistent offenders." 
Then he turned to the attorneys, and continued : 
"Gentlemen, you are officers of the court, and as 
such are sworn to uphold the laws and constitution 
of the State. You have been playing poker, con- 
trary to the statutes in such cases made and pro- 
vided. Each of you will be fined $10 upon the 
return of indictments, which I now instruct the 
jury to bring in." 

Turning to the prosecuting- attorney, he said: 
"You are not only a lawyer, but the prosecuting 
attorney, sworn to bring offenders to justice. You 
will pay $25. Walker," laying his hand on his own 
breast, ''you are not only a lawyer but a judge, 
and your case is the w^orst of all. You will pav 

$50." 

He paid the fine, as did each of the lawyers, and 
it broke up the game on that circuit. 

Chicago has produced an official who would take 
issue with that Kentucky judge. He isn't a lawyer, 
but he was a police inspector, and that is the next 
thing to it. He instructed the police to close all 
places where stud poker, faro, keno and other 
gambling might be found, but not to touch the 
harmless game of draw. In explanation, the in- 
spector said that he regarded draw poker as on 



72 



JACK pots: 



a par with whist, euchre, soUtaire and tiddledy- 
winks. 

"I regard poker as an innocent game," he said, 
with a judicial air, ''and a harmless diversion. It 

is true that money can be 
bet on it, but the same 
is true of the other 
games I have mentioned. 
Poker should be played 
with beans or buttons, 
and I understand 
that it is quite a 
favorite with fam- 
ilies." 

W hen asked 
whether he sup- 
posed the club 
men used beans 
or buttons, he re- 
plied that he re- 
garded the inci- 
dent as closed. 

As it happens, how- 
ever, this police Solomon 
has backing in no less a personage than Chief Jus- 
tice Beatty, of the Cahfornia Supreme Court, who 
has decided that in the eyes of the law poker is 
not a game that comes under the head of gambling. 
This decision was the result of an application 




Laying his hand on his own breast — 
you will pay $50. 



POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE. 73 

for a writ of habeas corpus made by Julius Meyer, 
who was held to answer on a charge of perjury. 
He was a juror in a case where the defendant was 
on trial for robbing the proprietors of a faro bank. 
Meyer was asked by the counsel for the defend- 
ant : 

s 

"Do you know a man named Carroll or Ross or 
Webster, the men who were proprietors of the 
gambling house at 620 Market street?" 

To which he replied: "No, sir, I have nothing 
to do with such places." 

After the trial it was discovered that Meyer was 
a constant visitor at certain poker establishments, 
and was occasionally employed to help the game 
along by taking a hand to revive interest. On this 
information the district attorney made out a com- 
plaint in which he charged Meyer with perjury. 
In the lower court the ex-juror was found guilty, 
but Chief Justice Beatty reversed this decision. 
In his opinion he said : 

'Toker playing for money, however objectiona- 
ble in fact, in the eyes of the law is as innocent as 
chess or any game played for recreation and its 
votaries and the places where it is played are not 
criminal. There is no inconsistency, therefore, be- 
tween the declaration of the petitioner that he had 
nothing to do with such places as a faro bank, and 
the fact he did frequent club-rooms where poker 
was played for money; And since there is neither 



74 JACK POTS. 

evidence nor accusation of any other false state- 
ment made by him it follows that he cannot be 
held for perjury and must be discharged from cus- 
tody." 

As may be imagined this decision created a sen- 
sation, but the justice stuck to it, and the poker 
players of 'Frisco felt like voting him a set of 
silver, but didn't dare to. 

\\^hen Judge Y — was on the northern New 
York circuit he was noted as a card player, in fact 
it was a passion with him, and hardly a night passed 
that he did not set down to a game of some 
kind. He was not particular, as he played all 
games equally well, and all in the same calm and 
judicial style. This fact made him especially strong 
at poker, but he never took advantage of it to 
win any special amount of money. It was the 
game he was after, and as a rule he would call even 
when he had a strong hand, when he thought the 
betting showed signs of exceeding reasonable lim- 
its. 

One night he sat in a game at the Lawyers' Club 
in Buffalo, where the stakes were never high, and 
the usual limit was a five-dollar bill. It had been 
a trying day in court, with a very complicated case. 
The lawyer for the defense was a little fellow named 
Perkins, a peppery chap, who made a specialty of 
badgering witnesses, and making objections to 
every bit of evidence that did not come his way. 



POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE. 75 

He had had a very unlucky day, as Judge Y — was 
very clear headed and not inclined to let a lawyer 
run over him as some judges do. Consequently he 
sat down on Perkins extremely hard on about 
twenty different occasions, and overruled all his 
objections with promptness and dispatch. A law- 
yer is supposed to take such matters as part of the 
game, but Perkins was a man who harbored re- 
sentment at being shown up. 

When the game was made up, the judge sat at 
the right of Perkins, and the little lawyer gave the 
big judge a glance that boded him no good. The 
game had not been in progress ten minutes before 
it w^as evident that Perkins was going to make the 
judge his meat if possible. You may have seen 
such a game. Perkins wouldn't stay in a hand 
unless the judge w-as also in, and he bucked at him 
without ceasing. Of course the other players 
noticed it and exchanged significant glances, but 
the judge appeared to be oblivious. 

Time and again Perkins would bet the limit 
before the draw when it was the judge's age, and 
when it was his age he was sure to raise the judge 
out if possible. This was rather a dangerous game 
against a cool player, and had the judge been 
vengeful he could have broken the peppery player 
on several occasions. But he laughed and talked, 
smoked cigars and took an occasional nip of old 
rye, and let Perkins get away with his transparent 



76 JACK POTS. 

bluffs with the best of good nature. And, as may 
be imagined, Perkins kept getting hotter and hot- 
ter all the time. 

At last it got down to a pot where everybody 
appeared to have a fair hand, at least everybody 
stayed. It was lifted several times before the draw. 
The judge took three cards, the other three men 
two apiece and Perkins drew one. 

It was Perkin's age. The man to his left 
chipped, the next man raised him one, the next 
man called, so did the judge, and Perkins raised it 
the limit. One man dropped out, the other called, 
and the judge raised Perkins the limit. 

''Hello," said that gentleman, with a thinly 
veiled sneer. "Motion overruled, hey?" 

''Looks that way," replied the judge, calmly. 

"Then I'll have to take an exception," retorted 
Perkins. "Raise you five." 

The other two players threw up their cards. 
They saw at once that a fight was on between Per- 
kins and the judge and they didn't want to be 
pinched. The judge raised back the limit, and 
thus it sawed back and forth for about ten times, 
Perkins all the while getting madder and madder, 
the judge cool as if hearing an action for simple 
trespass. 

By this time there was quite a small army of 
spectators around the table ; the exhibition of ran- 
cor was an unusual sight in that club. Some of 



POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE. 



77 



them interjected a few jocular remarks with the 
hope of giving the game a more gentle turn, but 
by this time Perkins was white to the lips, and 
one might have thought he was playing for his 
life. 

''Come, come," said the president of the club at 
length. "We don't want 
any one to lose a fortune 
here. In a friendly game, 
you know" 

"Make a final 
suggested one of 
the players. 

"I'm agreed," 
said the judge, 
promptly. "Or 
shall we show 
down as it is?" 

"Never!" cried 
Perkins, excited- 
ly. "L insist on 
another bet." He 
threw thirty dol- 
lars on the table. 
"You can't over- 
rule that!" 

The judge bit off the end of a fresh cigar with 
aggravating deliberation, lit it, laid his cards face 
down, and counted out thirty dollars. "Now, sir," 




Perkins sunk into a heap like a 
pile of old clothes. 



78 JACK POTS. 

he said, leaning" back in his chair in his well known 
attitude on the bench, ''produce your witnesses." 

Perkins, shaking like a leaf, but with a triumph- 
ant grin on his face, spread out his hand on the 
table and exhibited four deuces. 

''The court," said the judge, sternly, "decides 
that the witnesses are unworthy of credence." 

Then he laid out his cards and disclosed four 
treys. Perkins sunk into a heap like a pile of old 
clothes, and actually gasped as he saw the judge 
gather up the money and chips, and leave the table. 

"Damn," he said, faintly. "Overruled again !" 

Where the following described game took place 
deponent sayeth not,' and it is not essential, as the 
only important part of it is the ending. There 
were four players, but there was nothing out of 
the ordinary until it came to a jack pot, or rather, 
this particular jack pot, and only the judge and 
the colonel were in that. 

It had been made for $25 as a starter, and each 
of the four players had sweetened it four times with 
a five-dollar chip, before there came an opener. 

The colonel picked up his cards, glanced care- 
lessly at them, smiled blandly, and said, softly : 
ril bust that for fifty, so as to let you all in." 

Two of the players thanked him with great cor- 
diality, and stayed out pleasantly. The judge, who 
was the last to have a say, looked at his cards care- 
fully and an expression of supreme disgust settled 



POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE. 79 

on his face. He held the cards by the corner and 
made a slight motion as if to throw them in the 
discard. 

The colonel's hand twitched nervously. It 
looked as if it would be a case of showing openers 
and raking in the rich stakes and for reasons that 
will appear later the colonel was reluctant to show 
his hand at that stage. 

The judge made another motion as if he were 
inclined to throw up his hand and the colonel said : 
''What are you going to do, judge?" 

The judge went through his hand again, with 
the despairing look intensified. 

''Ain't afraid to play, are you?" inquired the 
colonel, tauntingly. 

"A little bit," replied the judge, "but I hate to 
see you run away with the pot in this fashion. I 
guess I'll see what you are doing this on, anyhow." 
Then he made good the opening bet. 

They drew cards. The colonel took two and the 
judge, after much painful deliberation, decided that 
one was about all he wanted. 

The colonel then promptly bet another fifty 
dollars, and the judge, after thinking it over, saw 
him and raised five dollars ; the colonel came back 
with another fifty-dollar raise. 

The judge laid his hand on the table, pulled out 
a roll of bills and counted off three liundred dol- 
lars. 



8o 



JACK POTS. 



"Vn tilt that about two hundred and fifty," he 
remarked, calmly. 

The colonel gasped. He looked at his hand and 
then at the very respectable pile of chips and cur- 
rency on the board. The judge's face still bore 
that pained expression. The colonel thought over 
the proposition for a minute and then went down 
into his clothes. By hard scrabbling he managed 
to get two hundred and fifty dollars together, and 
then he said, rather weakly: 'T'll call you." 




" Why, you robber," he said, " you had them all the time." 

The judge picked up his hand and spread it out 
on the table. He had four fives. 

The colonel gasped worse than ever as he 
showed up three queens. 

"Why, you robber," he said, "you had them all 
the time." 



POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE. ^i 

"Certainly," assented the judge, cheerfully. 

''But you made a couple of motions as if you 
were going to throw up your cards." 

''My boy,'^ said the judge, solemnly, as he 
stowed away the wad of bills, "I think it would be 
a good thing for you to go to some night school 
w^here there is a complete course in that noble 
game known as draw poker." 

But wiien we get down to what may be called 
the lower walks of jurisprudence, it is seen that 
law and poker mix with sometimes curious results. 
This is illustrated in the trials and adventures of 
two gentlemen of the East who went South and 
West to do the country. 

In a general way they were on the make, but 
in this case their specialty was in bunkoing con- 
fiding farmers out of farms and crops in various 
ways not necessary to describe here. In the course 
of time these two rascals came to Bugg Centre, in 
Arkansas. One of the gentlemen, on his return 
to civilization, related the happenings of that small 
burg in a spirited manner. 

"It didn't take us long to get acquainted, and 
the glad hand was put out everywhere, generally 
with a jug attached to it. Towards evening of 
this welcoming day somebody suggested a little 
game of draw just to pass away the time, and a 
tall, lanky man said that as it was pretty warm we 
might as well go to his house and play on the 



82 JACK POTS. 

'piazzer' while his daughter played the 'pianner' 
inside. 

''I wasn't stuck on the piano business, as music 
always did disconcert me when playing cards, but 
I couldn't very well make any objection. So we 
went there, and in about half an hour the music 
didn't bother me in the least. I don't know who 
taught those fellows to play cards, but it was the 
softest proposition I ever encountered. 

"Tobe — that was my partner — and I just looked 
at each other. We didn't have to do any crooked 
work ; the other four fellows just threw their money 
away, making the biggest fool bets I ever saw. I 
never found any money in my life, but this was the 
nearest to it. 

''By ten o'clock we had all the money in sight, 
and Tobe said wx'd better be starting out, as it 
was a long walk home, and the moon would be low 
down before we could reach the hotel. Our lanky 
host asked us to stay all night, but we refused. 
The fact is, we were so well satisfied with the rake- 
ofif that we meant to skip early the next morning. 

''We started through the woods just loaded 
down with cash, and pretty near four hundred dol- 
lars winner, and we did some pretty joyous talking, 
when all of a sudden we heard dogs baying behind 
us. We both knew they were hounds, and Tobe 
said somebody was coon hunting, although it was 
rather late in the year for that sport. 



POKER AND JURISPRUDENCE. ^3 

'Then he began to tell me about a coon hunt 
he was once in, and he was getting to the interest- 
ing part when he broke off and cried : Tard, get 
a tree ! Those dogs are after us.' 

"I never was good at tree climbing, but I got 
up one in a hurry and Tobe took another. In 
about two minutes the meanest lot of big mouthed, 
mangy hounds you ever saw were howling and 
prancing around under us. We both prayed that 
someone would come, and sure enough someone 
did. It was the tall, lank man. 

He came up and quieted the dogs, and then 
leaned on a long double-barreled gun, while he 
delivered a short address. 

''He said that he was mighty pained to do what 
he had to do, but it was his duty. The fact was 
that Bugg Centre had been victimized several times 
in the last year by strangers who came into the 
community and cleaned it out in various ways. He 
was sorry to have to assert that we had returned 
the hospitality extended to us in a cruel way. 

"We had gone into a friendly game with the 
Mayor, the Marshal, the County Treasurer and 
the Sheriff, which latter was himself. In a moment 
of confidence the Treasurer had staked the other 
gentlemen with all the available county funds, and 
we had skillfully — he would not say dishonestly — 
won them all. After our departure the little band 
of officials talked over the matter and came to the 



84 JACK POTS. 

conclusion that it was the duty of the Sheriff to 
make amends for this error, and here he was. 

"He informed us that he construed his duty to be 
to make us shell out all our winnings, and, as his 
fee, any other small change that we might have 
about us. He added that the dogs were not hun- 
gry, but would get so after awhile, and when we 
came down they might appease their appetite on 
us. Furthermore, there were some citizens of 
Bugg Centre back in the woods, who could pick a 
coon out of the highest tree in the darkest night in 
the year. 

''Did we come down? What else could we do? 
We did. We threw the money we had down on the 
ground, the Sheriff gathered it up, whistled to his 
dogs and went off. Tobe and I slid down, shook 
hands with each other mournfully, and in twenty- 
four hours we were out of Arkansas. I'll never go 
there any more, either on business or pleasure. 
Honor? They don't know the meaning of the 
word." 



CHAPTER VL 

ALL ABOUT JACK POTS A $1,200,000 JACK DIDN't 

KNOW GREENBACKS WON ON TWO DEUCES 

A BOSTON man's NARROW ESCAPE. 

'Jack pots," said a veteran campaigner, "is the 
devil." 

The grammar is bad, the sentiment will be rec- 
ognized as irreproachable. The inventor of jack 
pots is unknown, but his name has been alternately 
praised and cursed by players for ages. Southern- 
ers have declared that more than a million niggers 
have been lost on bob tailed flushes, but that isn't 
a circumstance to the money lost on jack pots. 
Of course somebody won the money, but the win- 
ner is not entitled to any consideration in a poker 
game ; he can take care of himself. 

A jack pot is a delusion and a snare. When a 
fellow is behind the game a jack pot offers a tempt- 
ing chance to play even on one hand. Of five 
players it has been calculated that an average of 
three will stay in a jack pot, and it usually has 
been sweetened three or four times before the 
opening. That makes a pot worth playing for. 

Now suppose you pick up a pair of jacks. Some 
players will pass on jacks and not come in unless 
another player opens the pot. Most players come 

85 



86 JACK POTS. 

in on jacks. Now comes the question how to play 
it. If you are the last to say, you may be pretty 
certain that you have the best hand to go, but if 
you open it lightly all hands will stay, and some 
one with a measley pair of fours will draw out on 
you. Therefore it is good play to open the pot for 
the limit, and thus scare away the little fellows if 
you can. But if they stay and you do not better 
your hand, you may be certain that you are beaten, 
and your only chance to win is to make a big bluff. 
If you help your hand, even with a small pair, you 
have a right to think that you have a winner. 

On the other hand, if you start out with threes 
or better, it is good play to open the pot for a small 
sum, so as to let in the other players. Then there 
is a chance that some one with a pair of queens 
or better will draw another and beat you, but it 
won't do to think of that, or you can't play cards. 

The most aggravating hand to have on opening 
is two pairs. It is much easier to draw one more 
to a pair than it is to make a full hand out of two 
pairs, yet they have such a ponderous' look that 
you can't help playing them after the draw. The 
safest policy is to call the first chance if you are 
raised. 

The real agony, however, comes to the man with 
a small pair who sees the opener, catches his card 
and then has it beaten by the opener, who also 
catches his card. Of course, arguing from the 



ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. 87 

ethical side, he ought to be beaten; the opener 
having the best hand at the start ought to win 
out; but that reasoning will not pacify the loser. 

One of the problems of the jack pot is in rela- 
tion to splitting openers. Suppose you open on 
jacks and all the others come in cheerfully, and 
you realize that you are up against threes and at 
the same time discover that you have a four flush. 
Then it is your play to split your jacks and draw to 
tlie flush. But at the end of the hand you must 
show your pair, so you place one jack on the table 
in front of you under a stack of chips and let it 
lay there until it is time to show up. That is fair 
enough and plain enough, but it in a measure gives 
away your hand. 

The New York Sun comes to the rescue in its 
own original way. The question is frequently re- 
ferred to its card expert, and he always decides it 
in the same way. This is the way he talks : 

''A player may open a jack pot on a pair and 
split the pair to draw to a straight or flush without 
in any manner calling the attention of any other 
player to the play. The discards must be placed in 
a pile in front of the next dealer, and the players 
must discard in order, beginning with the age. 
Then the discard pile gives indisputable evidence 
of what each player discards." 

How deliciously simple that is! The players 
must discard in order ! This is a theory, not a con- 



88 JACK POTS. 

dition. The Sun man apparently thinks that poker 
players are like soldiers at roll call each one an- 
swering to his name as called and no one daring 
to speak out of turn. As a matter of poker fact, 
no one ever saw a game where the players dis- 
carded in regular order. Some men are always 
slow in making up their minds, and the last man is 
just as liable to pitch away his discard first, so that 
the discard is never a reliable guide as to the 
order in which the cards were dropped. Then 
again, while two or three men are betting one of 
the others is almost certain to pick up the remain- 
ing cards and shuffle them or to mix them up in 
the fashion some players have of "seeing what they 
would have got." 

In ideal poker every move is made according to 
Hoyle — or the Sun — but poker isn't ideal. Men 
will not discard in regular order and there is no 
''must" about it. There is no umpire to direct 
the play or call down the player who discards out 
of his turn. The Sun man has frequently an- 
nounced that he is his own authority and it looks 
as if he were his own poker player; he plays cards 
wdth himself, where everything moves according 
to his rules. Nobody else plays that way. In 
splitting openers, anchor down the splitter in front 
of you, and then there can be no dispute. 

Another point while we are about it, which ap- 
plies to all kinds of hands. It is a rule in poker 



ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. 89 

playing that if the card is faced before the draw, the 
player must take it; if it faced while drawing, the 
player can't take it. But, what then? Does he 
get the next card, or must he wait until the others 
are served? There are two opinions. One says 
that he ought to get the next card because it 
wasn't his fault that the card was faced. The other 
says that if an extra card is served that deprives all 
the players that follow of the cards they ought 
to have had, and that so long as he has to take a 
card to which he was not originally entitled, what 
difference does it make if he has to wait until all 
the others are served? This side seems to have 
rather the best of the argument, and it is the view 
taken by most poker coteries. 

Speaking of innovations on jack pots — pro- 
gressing up to aces and then down again — another 
one comes to light, but it is not dangerous. It 
appears to have been evolved from the active brain 
of a St. Louis sport. He says : 

"Of late years the old-fashioned ante-bellum 
game of poker has been superseded by the plan of 
playing all jack pots. This, of course, made 
swifter play, while at the same time it enabled 
everybody to gauge to some extent the strength 
of the hand held by the man who opened the pot. 
But the latest evolution of poker is now at hand, 
and it consists of allowing pots to be opened on 
any pair. 



90 JACK POTS. 

'That is to say, if A has only a pair of deuces 
and is wiUing to take chances he can begin the 
betting. Of course, if he is very close to the 
dealer he will pass on such a small pair, and will 
hold his hand to await the action of B, C, D, et al. 

''The advantages of this plan may not seem 
obvious, but I have yet to see the poker player who 
does not consider it a big improvement on the cast 
iron system of adhesion to jacks. In the first place, 
it gives more rapidity and excitement, and that is 
what the player yearns for. In the next place, it 
gives the loser a far better chance to get even. 
Everybody will be coming-in on short pairs — tens 
and under — and the chances of making strong 
hands are increased because of the increased fre- 
quency of the draw. 

"This open-on-any-pair game is, I think, quite 
likely to gain the favor of the pasteboard loving 
public, and crystallize into permanent form. The 
conservative element will kick against it, but will 
finally give way, just as it had to concede the all- 
jack system, which was for a long time fought bit- 
terly by the ancient regime." 

Now doesn't that sound funny. To open a pot 
on any pair is precisely what is done now in 
straight poker, and the only thing he bars out is 
the opening of the pot on nothing, and how often 
does that occur in a game? Of course there would 
be more pots played, but, what size would they be? 



4 



ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. 9' 

It would be a miracle if everyone would pass out if 
I wo deuces were openers. There would be a play 
on every deal. The whole scheme is rubbish. 

General Miles once told a good story about the 
biggest jack pot on record. He prefaced it by two 
astonishing statements — the first that he did not 
play poker himself, and the second that the game 
has rather gone out of the army. No one would 
think of contradicting the gallant general in com- 
mand of our armies, but, at the same time — well, 
here is the story : 

'T think I can claim to have been a witness of 
the biggest game as to stakes that was ever 
played." 

"Tell us about it, General," said Colonel Ochil- 
tree. 'T have some pretty good poker stories in 
stock myself." 

"And so have I," said Henry Watterson. "For 
instance, Joe Blackburn's about the game played 
in the trenches at the battle of Shiloh, with a table 
made on the bodies of the comrades of the play- 
ers." 

"Well," chimed in John W. Mackay, "as to 
stakes, I will enter a claim for some of the gamcrD 
played in the good old days of Nevada, when the 
boys had the Comstock lode to draw upon. But, 
General, let us have your story." 

"It was in the spring of 1865," began the Gen- 
eral, "when Davis, Lee and the rest of vou Confed- 



92 



JACK POTS. 



erates, Watterson, were in full retreat from Rich- 
mond toward Danville, and we were pressing you 
night and day, hardly stopping to eat or sleep. 
On the eve of the battle of Sailor's Creek" 

''I was there," chipped in Ochiltree. "It was in 
that battle I was wounded." 

"That day," continued General Miles, "we over- 




The biggest poker game that was ever played. 

hauled and captured a Confederate wagon train 
and found, greatly to the delight of our boys, that 
several of the wagons were loaded wdth Confeder- 
ate bonds and Confederate money in transit from 
Richmond to whatever place the government now 
on wheels might make a stand. The soldiers 



ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. 93 

simply helped themselves to the stuff by the hand- 
fuls, and the officers, who had a pretty good idea 
as to the value of the spoils, or rather, their lack 
of value, did not care to deprive them of their 
fun. 

"At night, when we had knocked off work for 
supper and a few hours rest and sleep, I had occa- 
sion to ride along the line, and I found a poker 
game going on at every camp fire. Stopping to 
watch one of the games, this is what I heard : 

" 'How much is the ante ?' 

" *A thousand dollars.' 

" 'And how much has it been raised? Five 
thousand? Well, here goes! I raise it ten thou- 
sand.' 

" 'Good ! I see you and go you ten thousand 
dollars better. Twenty-five thousand to draw 
cards.' 

"Then cards were drawn, and presently a bet 
was made of fifty thousand dollars. Some one 
went one hundred thousand better, but he was 
ruled down. Fifty thousand was the limit. How- 
ever, there was five hundred thousand dollars in 
the pot when it was hauled in by the winner, who 
had three treys and a pair of kings. I expressed 
my surprise at the size of the game and told the 
boys that they had better go slow or their funds 
would run out. 

" 'Never fear, General,' replied one of them. 



94 



JACK POTS. 



'we'll keep within our means. You ought to 
have been here ten minutes ago. We had a jack- 
pot of one million, two hundred thousand dollars !' 

"I think you will agree with me," concluded 
General Miles, "that no bigger poker game than 
that was ever played." 

A sergeant in the Seventh Cavalry, then sta- 
tioned in Dakota, told me a story that is a mate 

to this. It was at 







He made them shell out all the notes 
they had stuffed in their clothes. 



the very begin- 
ning of the war 
and his regi- 
ment was in Vir- 
ginia. He had a 
squad out on a 
scouting expedi- 
tion, and they saw 
ahead of them a 
small party 
o f Confederates 
with a wagon. 
They gave chase 
and the Confed- 
erates got away 
and left the 



wagon, 



The sergeant and his men examined the wagon 
and found that it was a U. S. wagon, probably cut 
out from a train by a daring party of Confederates. 



ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. 95 

It contained twenty boxes, which they pried open. 
The boxes were full of greenbacks, all brand new. 

Not a man in the party had ever seen a green- 
back and had no idea that they were good money, 
so they grabbed them out by fistfuls, and set down 
to play poker with them. In this occupation they 
were discovered by another squad of Union troops, 
this time headed by a captain, who knew something 
about finance. He made them shell out all the 
notes they, had stuffed in their clothes, and the 
wagon was taken back to camp and a frantic pay- 
master. 

My friend used to tell this story with tears in his 
eyes. If they had only known the value of their 
capture they might have taken a couple hundred 
thousand apiece, hid it in their clothes, threw 
away some empty boxes, and brought the rest vir- 
tuously back to camp, and been rich for the rest of 
their days. It is rather a curious story, and I 
don't vouch for it. 

It seems that poker is played in rather peculiar 
fashion in the upper circles of New York, if the 
following little tale is true. It was a choice coterie 
on the top floor of a fashionable Gotham club 
house. 

The jack pot had been around several times, 
and there was an accumulation of dollars in the 
centre of the table. 

The dealer picked up the cards and threw them 



96 



JACK POTS. 



out one by one, after the manner of poker games, 
and the gentleman on his left discovered that the 
first three were deuces. He immediately opened 
the pot for fifty cents, which was the terrible limit, 
and was rather startled when it came to him again 
to note that it cost him two dollars more to get in. 
He paid the price, but such was his agitation that 
he forgot he had three of a kind, discarded and 
drew three. 

Before picking up his cards he realized that he 
had made a bull. Believing that he had lost all 
chance of winning the pot, he was about to throw 

down his hand when a 
gentleman who sat be- 
hind him, and was 
well 




the 
game. 



not 
na- 
re- 



versed in 
tional 

marked, blandly : 
"See here, old 
man, you have 
four cards just 
alike. Is t h a t 
right?" 

"Shut up!" 



The dealer leaped to his feet and shouted: 
thought you had four of a kind; 
where are they?" 



growled the club 
man. Then, with 
seeming indifference, he added: "Fifty up. 

Everybody laughed and stayed out — naturally. 
Nobody cared to dispute the pot with him, and he 
raked it in. 



ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. 97 

The occasion being rather phenomenal, he threw 
down his cards face up, and he still had two deuces. 

The dealer leaped to his feet and shouted: "I 
thought you had four of a kind. Where are they ?" 

"Four spades and a deuce of hearts," replied the 
winner. 

There was another laugh all around and the 
game went on, and it was not until the next time 
they met that somebody thought to ask how he 
opened the pot. 

He was fortunate that he was not playing in a 
cowboy game. In fashionable circles the man 
who opens a jack pot when he hasn't openers loses 
the pot ; in other circles he loses his life along with 
the pot. There are certain men who will not ac- 
cept such excuses as "Forgot," "Thought that jack 
was a king," or something like that. They see 
nothing in it but a deliberate attempt to steal a 
pot, and guns are pulled instanter. 

In the early 'eighties, when Texas was really 
tough, and a man's life was not worth much more 
than a mule's, a young Bostonian, just from col- 
lege, landed in the Lone Star State. He had three 
thousand dollars, a good education and all the 
astounding conceit that goes with a college educa- 
tion. He was way up in the classics, had a smatter- 
ing of the modern languages, thought he knew 
"life" in all its phases — having imbibed the idea 
from three months' experience in the streets of 



98 JACK POTS. 

Boston and New York — and had more than a no- 
tion that he could go West and carve out his for- 
tune as easily as drinking a beer. 

The first place he struck was Dallas, and he 
dropped a few hundreds there just for a starter. 
The further he moved west the easier he became, 
and when he got to the limits, he had only about 
five hundred of his original three thousand. He 
was a gay boy, and rapidly fell into Texan ways, 
but somehow he couldn't catch on. An occasional 
spurt at cow punching kept his head above water 
for a time, but he realized that the day was rapidly 
approaching when he would have to return to 
Boston with the sad confession that he had 
dropped his pile, and would be obliged to run up 
against the stern realities of life in the guise of 
a teacher of a country school. 

It was gall and wormwood to him and he used 
every effort to stave ofT the evil day. Among the 
efforts was bucking the tiger, but the beast was 
unkind. He see-sawed back and forth, but he 
could never make a real killing, and it was while 
in this precarious state of affairs that he sat in a 
game of poker. 

The fates looked rather propitious. The four 
other men in the game were cattlemen with big 
wads and a generous style of betting. They were 
also square as a die. Horace — we will call him 
Horace, as befits a Boston man — knew that he 



ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. 99 

was the best player in the bunch, and if the cards 
went his way he had more than a chance of fatten- 
ing his wad. 

And the cards did run his way. It was a rare 
thing that he did not start out with a pair and he 
helped his hand about four times out of five. Three 
times he held a full house, and he got so that he 
was almost afraid to play flushes he held so many. 
He really did not dare to play to the full strength 
of his hands, for fear of exciting suspicion, al- 
though he was playing without a thought of trick- 
ery. Once or twice he apologized for his luck, but 
the other men laughed good naturedly. 

*'Play your luck, my boy," said one of them. 'T 
^understand that you haven't had your share since 
J striking this country." 

This was true enough, and so he played a little 
harder, until at the end of three hours he was nearly 
four thousand dollars ahead of the game. 

Then there came a jack pot. There had been 
jack pots before, but nothing out of the way. It 
was the Boston man's deal, and when he picked up 
his cards he saw that he had a pair of kings, a jack, 
a four and a five. There was twenty-five dollars in 
the pot to start ofif. Everybody passed and it was 
up to Horace. He opened it for twenty-five. Two 
men stayed, the other two dropped out. 

The first man to draw took one card, the next 
man drew three and Horace took three. He laid 



lOO JACK POTS. 

his pair of kings face down in front of him, tossed 
the discard into the deck, and bet fifty dollars with- 
out looking at his draw. The man that drew one 
card raised it a hundred, the next man dropped 
out, and Horace stopped to think. 

A one card evidently meant a four flush or a 
four straight. If he had caught either Horace was^ 
beaten, even if he caught the third king; if it was 
a blui¥ two kings w^ere good as wheat. He looked 
at his draw\ A ten spot, a six and a deuce. So he 
still had his pair of kings. He tossed in another 
hundred. The cattleman came back at him with two 
hundred and fifty. Then Horace picked up the 
cards lying in front of him, more with a desire to 
have time to think than any other motive. 

Then he felt a cold chill stealing up his spine 
until his hair crept on his head, and a sickness came 
all over him. He had kept the jack and thrown 
away one of the kings ! He sat there a full minute 
and did some very rapid thinking. If it had been 
an ordinary deal he would have thrown his hand 
into the deck without comment, but it was a jack 
pot, and he had opened it, so that he must show 
his hand. 

He said afterward that what he should have 
done was to have thrown down his hand, explain 
how he had made a mistake, and forfeit the po[. 
He thinks they would have accepted the explana- 
tion in good faith, although he admits that they 



ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. loi 

might not. But all he realized then was that he 
was in a terrible predicament. To open a jack pot 
without openers was generally regarded as an at- 
tempt to steal the pot, and treated as detected 
theft usually is in Texas. Here he had been win- 
ning right along, and holding phenomenal hands, 
and he couldn't help but feel that under the same 
circumstances he would have had suspicions. He 
saw himself in imagination shot full of holes, or 
maybe with a dirk thrust into his vitals, and the 
folks at home never knowing what had become of 
him. 

While all these gloomy thoughts were running 
through his head, he mechanically raised another 
hundred, which was the worst thing he could have 
done, because while he had an excuse before lifting 
his cards now he had none. He realized that also 
when it was too late, and another cold chill w^ent 
capering along his spinal column. 

The cattleman fingered his cards, and Horace 
saw that it was either a call or a lay down, and then 
would come the show down of openers, and 
then 

Just then there broke out a terrific commotion 
in the rear of the saloon, which w'as also an eating 
house. The cook had upset a pan of gravy over his 
legs, and in his jumping around had upset the 
stove, and the kitchen was on fire. As the whole 
structure was of wood and the fire department any- 



X03 



JACK POTS. 



thing but prompt or reliable, there was a strong 
probability of what the reporters call a holocaust. 
The cook and his assistant, two men who were 
eating, the barkeeper and the boss tore around with 
buckets, people 



rushed in from 
the street, and of 
course the game 



broke up 
and there. 




Just then there broke out a terrific commotion in the rear of the saloon. 

of the cattlemen swept cards, chips and money into 
his hat and all five players lit out. Horace said that 
when he dropped his cards on the floor he felt as if 
he was getting rid of a thousand pound weight. 



ALL ABOUT JACK POTS. 103 

When the excitement had subsided, and the fire 
was extinguished with small loss, all hands went 
back to the saloon to take a drink. Then the cat- 
tleman took off his hat and emptied the contents 
on the bar. 

''What's to become of this?" he asked. 
"Fm willing to divide it," said the Boston man, 
promptly. 

'Tf you had the best hand it's yours," returned 
the cattleman. ''What did you have?" 

"I had only a pair of kings," replied Horace, 
looking him squarely in the eyes. That was no lie, 
because he did have a pair of kings, although he 
was fool enough to throw one away. ^ 

"I had a four flush to go," said the other man, 
"and I didn't fill, but I made a pair of queens. The 
pot's yours." 

Horace felt another great weight lifted off his 
mind when he realized that he really had had the 
winning hand, and yet he